By THE STRAITS TIMES
ASIA NEWS NETWORK
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed by the restaurant associations from Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam to form the Asean Restaurant Associations Alliance.
The MoU will help the food and beverage (F&B) sector in Singapore and the other countries to expand into Asean markets, as well as promoting the sharing of best practices and even the use of interesting ingredients or cooking methods.
They will also support each other’s events and organise joint activities to benefit their members and create business relationships.
The MoU was signed at the inaugural Restaurant Asia 2019 expo held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre between March 21 and 24.
“With the common goal to promote development and excellence of the F&B community in Asean, the formation of this alliance signifies our determination, conviction and confidence to work together to propel the industry to greater heights,” Restaurant Association of Singapore president Vincent Tan said in a speech during the event.
The association has more than 400 members representing close to 700 brands and more than 3,600 food outlets here. Tan told The Straits Times: “With this MoU, we are able to further extend our network into Asean and encourage internationalisation for our members.”
He said opportunities abound in the region due to Asean’s growing population of about 650 million.
Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said in his speech that productivity for the food service industry, measured by real value added per actual hour worked, has increased 1.4 per cent per annum in the past five years.
But he added that this is lower than the productivity in other service sectors such as retail trade, which recorded a 3.2 per cent per annum increase in the same period.
Chee said the rapid growth in F&B establishments has outpaced demand, and the increased competition has squeezed profits and impacted productivity. He added that F&B enterprises should go beyond technology to thrive, highlighting the MoU as an example.
“While we focus on cutting costs to improve productivity by reducing labour reliance, it is equally important to help our companies to achieve higher value-add and greater profitability by achieving larger scale,” he said.
Chee also pointed to the enhanced Productivity Solutions Grant that firms can tap as well. The grant includes a new subsidy to support 70 per cent of out-of-pocket cost for training, up to a maximum of $10,000 (Bt315,510) per firm.