US Dairy Partnership Inspires Food Innovation In Southeast Asia

Monday, June 4th, 2018 | 1746 Views

The US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC) at Singapore Polytechnic signed a partnership agreement in May that furthers US dairy’s commitment to food innovation to meet the needs of Southeast Asian customers and consumers.

Valued at US$690 million, Southeast Asia is the second largest market for US dairy exports globally and the largest outside of North America.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) lays out a framework under which USDEC and US dairy suppliers will work together with FIRC to deepen dairy knowledge, develop innovative food products for the Southeast Asian market, and provide consumers in the region with more options suited to their specific tastes.

This agreement comes at an opportune time in addressing the region’s double burden of malnutrition, where dairy can support nutritional solutions for better health and wellness outcomes.

“Singapore is a hotbed of food innovation and the gateway to Southeast Asia. FIRC’s team of food technologists, packaging specialists and engineers is at the forefront of establishing Singapore as a strategic food hub. We are very excited to be working with this innovative group and look forward to sharing US dairy technology and expertise,” says Tom Vilsack, USDEC president and chief executive officer.

“One of FIRC’s objectives is to leverage science and technology to develop food innovations and capture new markets. We expect that the dairy knowledge and spirit of innovation brought by USDEC and its members will advance progress towards that goal,” says Loong Mann Na, centre director FIRC.

The growing US dairy product portfolio stems from investments in research and innovation all along the dedicated supply chain—from farm families to milk processors to cheese and ingredient manufacturers. The US commitment to delivering a sustainably produced milk supply can satisfy the region’s growing appetite for dairy.

“This partnership allows US dairy suppliers to be at the forefront of the product development process, to become more customer-centric and to enhance their level of service,” says Martin Teo, technical director, food applications, with USDEC’s Singapore office.

Teo will serve as the key contact between US dairy suppliers and FIRC. When he joined USDEC in March of this year, he brought with him 25 years of experience in the Southeast Asian food industry. Like the FIRC MOU, he is part of the broader US plan to deepen US dairy ties with Southeast Asia and meet the region’s dairy needs.

USDEC’s 2018 activities focus on demonstrating how the US sustainably produced line-up of dairy protein, milk powder, specialty ingredients and cheese fit the taste preferences and nutritional requirements of the region. Those activities fall into two primary areas:

Health and wellness focused: A permeate workshop at the FIRC facilities, the US presence at Food Ingredients Vietnam, US Dairy Innovation Seminars in Vietnam and Singapore, a technical training mission to the United States for Southeast Asian food R&D specialists (in conjunction with the 2018 Institute of Food Technologists Expo), and participation in the Food Ingredients Asia show provide further opportunities for US suppliers and Southeast Asian buyers to work together, build relationships and explore the benefits of US dairy ingredients.

Culinary focused: USDEC hosted cheese receptions, showcases and chef events as this year’s official dairy partner for Singapore’s World Gourmet Summit and at Food and Hotel Asia. A cheese innovation seminar is on tap for August. These and additional events seek to promote awareness and heritage in US cheese, and demonstrate how US cheese varieties, quality, value and innovation can meet the needs of the Southeast Asian foodservice sector.