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Showcasing Brunei delicacies in Japan

Five local businesses recently participated in Japan’s leading F&B tradeshow FOODEX 2022 for the first time to seek market validation and explore potential export opportunities.

DARe (Darussalam Enterprise), the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam in Japan and the ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC) jointly collaborated for the participation of Brunei businesses as part of a wider, ongoing product development project called Improving Quality of Brunei Products.

This year’s FOODEX Japan ran from March 8 to 11, 2022, at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, drawing thousands of participants from over 90 countries. Local products from Ghanim International Corporation, Volco Venture, Sabli Group of Companies, Taurean Bakeshop & Café, and Syarikat Rizqussalam were shipped to Japan and exhibited at Brunei’s booth which was visited by distributors, retailers, and other potential business partners.

The Embassy of Brunei Darussalam and AJC initiated the Improving Quality of Brunei Products project in 2020 in collaboration with DARe to assess and develop existing Bruneian-made products for the Japanese market. The project engaged product experts from the Japan Association of International Business Advisors (AIBA) to provide consultancy to 10 local manufacturers over improving different aspects of their products, including branding, packaging, and taste.

The inaugural participation of Brunei businesses in FOODEX is also part of DARe’s Market Access initiatives, aiming to provide opportunities for local businesses to access new markets locally and abroad through business matching, tradeshows, and the provision of direct online and offline sales channels.

Market Access also offers training and consultancy programmes that will help businesses improve internal competencies and achieve international standards.

Chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam in Japan Pengiran Mohd Azian bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Maidin said Brunei’s participation in FOODEX is part of an ongoing and joint efforts to help local products enter the Japanese market.

Visitors at Brunei’s booth at the recent FOODEX Japan 2022. PHOTO: EMBASSY OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM IN JAPAN

“Japanese customers have always been naturally curious to know more about Bruneian products. Our participation in FOODEX is a valuable opportunity as it showcases what we can offer as well as raise awareness about Brunei as a whole,” said Pengiran Mohd Azian.

“With support from DARe, the embassy will continue to work hard to engage with Japanese distributors and importers to penetrate the market here.”

Volco Venture, a home-based producer of hot sauce, said their participation in FOODEX and the Improving Quality of Brunei Products project have brought forward their plans to expand to an industrial location soon.

“We have been producing our hot sauce since 2014, selling mostly through social media and word of mouth.

“Two years ago, we were able to enter retail stores thanks to DARe’s Bruneian Made supermarket shelves, and today, we are now selling at more than 12 outlets across the country,” said Mohd Vol Momin, who runs the business with his daughter Nadiatul.

“Now, we want to see what’s the potential of our product overseas, and FOODEX is an opportunity to have our product showcased not only to the Japan market but the Asian region as well.” For FOODEX, Volco supplied their signature Lanun hot sauce in 255ml bottles in the flavours of Tom-Tom Lemongrass and Pineapple Sunrise.

Meanwhile, local bakery Taurean exhibited five flavours of their oatmeal-based cookies, with modified packaging on the advice of AIBA.

“Our participation in FOODEX helps us gather more feedback on our products for us to be able to continuously improve and make our products more competitive for potential export,” said Taurean’s owner Tsang Poh Yee. Taurean’s cookies, sold locally in jars of 150g to 160g, were modified to have each cookie in the jar individually wrapped for FOODEX, an approach her consultant believes would help appeal to Japan’s sanitary-focussed market.

“The value of the Japanese consultants has been to help us understand in better detail what the retailers and consumers in that market look for, and in turn, see how we can apply those insights to improve the marketability of our local products,” added Poh Yee.