Trustana, a Singapore-based B2B platform of verifiable food traders, signed a Memorandum of Understanding today with 5 leading food suppliers from Chongqing, under the “China-Singapore (Chongqing) Agriculture Export Enablement Project” created by the office of the Singapore-Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI). The partnership aims to provide food & beverage (F&B) companies in China and Singapore with better access to import and export markets, so that they are able to internationalize and grow their businesses.
Signed at the sixth annual Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting for the CCI, the partnership reflects the growing relationship between ASEAN and Western China over the past five years. The MOU with Trustana brings in five leading food manufacturers from Chongqing to Singapore. These companies specialize in providing “mala” flavor food products – an expanding global market that has seen 200% growth in demand over the past 3 years.
The five companies are Chongqing Haoxifu Food Co., Ltd, Chongqing Dekang Condiment Co., Ltd, Chongqing Jiaowang Agricultural Development Co., Ltd, Chongqing Tanmeizi Jinzhang Tujia Coriander Processing Co., Ltd and Chongqing Haogemen Food Technology Co., Ltd.
“Singapore-based buyers, particularly SMEs, face major challenges when seeking to expand internationally. They must first identify products that will sell well, and source from trusted suppliers, all the while managing language and cultural barriers across borders. They must also navigate the complex processes and operational costs of import with limited volumes”, said Rebecca Xing, General Manager and Head of Product, Trustana.
To make international markets more accessible to SMEs, Trustana curates food products and pre-screens suppliers within their database before presenting the most relevant partners tailored to the needs of potential buyers. The company conducts market research on product trends and consumer demand, and arranges the end-to-end import & export process so that the selected products are ready for sale in their destination country.
With at least 70 million SMEs in Southeast Asia, SMEs make up more than 99% of the business ecosystem in the region, yet less than 1% of them are registered traders. Trustana’s partnership with CCI is one initiative to help SMEs expand into international markets by providing buyers in Singapore access to a popular set of products via a unique set of Chongqing suppliers. It would see Trustana support participating suppliers by matching them with high intent-to-purchase B2B buyers to forge new business relationships across both countries. Although starting with China and Singapore, Trustana intends to expand this offering to additional Southeast Asian countries this year.
“Our vision is to democratize access to global trade for companies of all sizes. We’re excited to help bring into Singapore five best-selling ‘mala’ brands from the home of the ‘mala’ flavor, Chongqing”, added Rebecca.
Before embarking on this partnership, Trustana and CCI collaborated to validate the international demand for “mala” food items. This was reflected in Trustana’s research, which found that 35% of the snack and instant food category enquiries from Singapore consumers were related to “spicy or mala” flavors. In addition, Trustana has visited and vetted the product quality and safety standards of its five suppliers.
Seeded by Temasek in early 2020, within a year Trustana has helped over 2,000 F&B buyers and suppliers build new cross-border business connections across Australia, China, India, North America, and Southeast Asia.
Looking ahead, Trustana will seek additional collaborations to uncover quality products for its growing merchant base. With every province, city, and country having their own specialty food products, Trustana aims to enable SMEs across the world to bring the best products to international consumers.
Marking the official start of the China (CQ)-Singapore Help Agriculture Food Suppliers Go Abroad project, the JIC meeting is a bilateral intergovernmental meeting focusing on four key areas of cooperation: transport & logistics, aviation, financial services, and information & communication technology. It was attended by Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How, and Chongqing Mayor Tang Liangzhi.
 Using as an indicator of demand a 200% growth in number of Google search queries
 “The Missing (Small) Businesses of Southeast Asia”, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Perspective Issue 79/2020