This year, with a rebranding and name change to Food Japan, I was intent on making my trip count for what it's worth thus I registered for the media accreditation which could give me access on the trade visitors' days on 27th and 28th October i.e. Thursday and Friday. Thankfully, I succeeded in getting the media pass despite being having such a small presence online (thank you Asia PR Werkz!) so I could see every booth in great detail and at my own pace. Phew!
For those who aren't aware of what Food Japan is, it is ASEAN's largest dedicated showcase on Japanese food and beverage, with an array of authentic Japanese ingredients and food, culinary techniques and equipment, plus demos and classes. Serving as a bridge for F&B businesses between Japan and ASEAN, Food Japan provides visitors with valuable opportunities to understand, explore collaborations and learn more about the versatility of classic Japanese ingredients, quality seasonal produces, unique prefecture specialities as well as innovative technology and machinery. (Portion in italics from the official website)
In its 5th edition this year, Food Japan showcases over 1,000 items from 304 exhibitions from 40 prefectures so this is a must-see if you are into Japanese food or would like what are the latest food and drink products out in the market. For the first two days, it is open to trade visitors only while the public gets to visit on 29th October which happens to be a Saturday and Deepavali. Prior to the opening of this event, you could pre-register for your tickets so this would have helped you to save some time in the queue. Although the pre-registration is closed by now, you can still get your tickets outside the exhibition hall at Suntec Convention Centre Halls 401 and 402.
Other than seeing the latest in F & B products and services from Japan, you can also take part in the workshops. You can either reserve a seat via this page or visit the registration counter in front of the workshop area which is located right at the far back of the exhibition hall. If you are choosing the latter option, I suggest that you go to register and make your payment first upon your arrival before touring the exhibition or else you might not be able to get a place. Here are the three classes on offer tomorrow:
11.30am - 12.30pm
Temari Zushi & Matcha Tiramisu Workshop
60 mins SGD 20
12.45pm - 1.45pm
Temari Zushi & Matcha Tiramisu Workshop
60 mins SGD 20
2.00pm - 4.00pm
Polkaros Café Presents - Mini Teishoku Workshop
120 mins SGD 45
One other tip that I would like to share with you is that you should bring ample cash if you are planning to buy any of the products sold by the exhibitors. Most of them only accept cash so it's only a few who accept Nets or even credit card for items which are more pricey. It's also better if you can prepare small notes if possible or else you may have to wait a while for your change especially with the crowds around.
If you are feeling peckish, you can head to the J Food Court area at the back (left side of the hall) to sample the selection from some of the well-known Japanese restaurants in Singapore. There's also a lot of food and drink sampling going around so your taste buds will be treated to a feast fit for a king as you go around the exhibition hall.
Over the next few days, I will be sharing more details on the booths I visited and the products which caught my eye. Nonetheless, I have a few observations on this event which I would like to mention here that may be of use to you too:
1) If you like something, you might have to make a decision on the spot to get it.
Based on what I gathered after talking to the exhibitors, quite a number of them have not entered the Singapore market yet so they are looking for distributors and importers. For those who have already done so, their presence is largely limited to the Japanese supermarkets here such as Meidi-ya and Isetan. And even if that's the case, some of them are only featured during special events so they are not available all year round.
As such, what this means is that, if you like something which you've tasted, you might have to consider making a decision to buy it on the spot or go to Japan to do the same if the product is not sold in Singapore.
2) The exhibitors are very proud of their products and more than willing to share with you on what makes their products so good or special.
Save for a few exhibitors who were seemingly more concerned with talking to people who looked like they would bring business to them or their phones were more interesting than the visitors in front of them or perhaps they were not very keen on talking to people like me who wore a media pass, the rest of the exhibitors I came across were very friendly and enthusiastic about sharing their products with me. Of course, I think the fact that I could speak Japanese helped a lot in breaking the ice between us and I really appreciated some of them willing to make an effort to talk to me in English even though they may not be that fluent. When you want to break into an overseas market, initiative is really important since you can't be sitting there to wait for business to come your way. If you are willing to approach them, they will reciprocate. And if you have any problems communicating, there are the interpreters who can help in bridging the gap.
During these conversations, I was really impressed by some of these companies and their products so that's why I want to write a detailed post and do some free PR for them. I'm not a bigwig from some established media company so it's inevitable that some people do not really take you seriously and wouldn't want to talk to you. However, since I'm already promoting J-ent in general, there's no reason why I can't do the same for Japan's F & B industry especially since I love Japanese food too. As such, do keep a lookout for these posts coming your way!
3) Learn from the experts, first-hand.
I'm sure many people like Japanese food but may not really understand or know the details or the profound knowledge that goes into making them. Besides learning through the workshops, talking to the exhibitors will definitely be an eye-opening experience. I learnt something new from everyone I talked to so it was a truly enriching day I spent at this event. Some of the information I got is not something you can easily find online or in books.
If you are keen to check out this event, do remember to head there early and hope that you'll have fun on your Saturday!