Speciality & Fine Food Asia (SFFA) and Restaurant Pub & Bar Asia (RPB Asia) held their third edition in Singapore this week, providing food & drink producers with decision makers across the retail, food, service and hospitality sectors.
Spirited Singapore caught up with three alcohol brand exhibitors – Vintas, Spirit & Penance and Nordic Bev at F&B trade show RPB Asia earlier this week.
The interview panel included Brian Beattie, Managing Director, Nordic Bev; Puver Puveraasen, Co-Founder, Vintas; and Timothy Ng, Managing Director, Spirit & Penance. Vintas is the brand owner of Singapore’s first premium blueberry wine. Spirit & Penance does Australian craft spirits and Nordic Bev sells spirits, craft beers, ciders from Norway including their flagship brand ‘Harahorn Gin’.
Spirited Singapore (SS): Why are you looking to enter the Singapore and Southeast Asia market?Puver Puveraasen (PP): We started Vintas in Singapore as our headquarters because Singapore is a springboard to markets within the Asia Pacific and our team comprises all Singaporeans. Hence, Singapore is our first natural market for our blueberry wine.
Affluence is growing across many parts of Asia and there has been a dramatic growth in consumer interest in diverse wine styles. Coupled with a burgeoning F&B scene and consumers’ demand for variety, we created our blueberry wine for the sweet wine drinker market – one who doesn’t have a taste for dry Merlots, Cabernets and Pinots. We also want to give regular wine drinkers more choices.
Brian Beattie (BB): Singapore represents a significant market for our category of premium spirits, but is also key to our operations in other markets in the region. We preposition stock in bond in Singapore to be able to readily service local and regional partners. We are primarily focused on premium and ultra-premium cocktail venues and developing of the craft beer market. We represent only Norwegian companies who focus on only the finest quality products made from only the purest ingredients.
Timothy Ng (TN): Singapore is an amazing base to reach out into untapped developing markets such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. SEA’s close proximity to Australia and its densely populated cities, with a growing middle class, make it the natural first step for export of Australian spirits.
SS: What’s your opinion of the beer/spirits industry in Singapore?
TN: The spirits industry is the place to be seen in the region. As a whole, the food and drinks scene is among the most developed in the world. While competition here is high, it is a key market for anyone who is hoping to export into the region.
PP: Singapore has a growing market for the beer and spirits industry. Beer remains king but spirits have been seeing growth in terms of volume which is in line with changes in the drinking scene. There has been an increase in people wanting to chill out by a bar or lounge rather than going to clubs and this drives up demand for craft cocktails and wines. As the bar scene becomes more sophisticated, mixologists are constantly creating new tasting cocktails.
BB: As a market that is central to the plans of many exporters, Singapore is extremely diverse. Driven by great cocktail venues, there is an appetite for innovation and creativity, and the market seeks quality.
SS: What do you hope to bring to this market through RPB Asia that’s fresh, new and innovative?
BB: Multiple award-winning craft brewers, farmhouse cider and spirits producers, and most unique Norwegian Aquavit, aged in Sherry, Madeira and Apple Brandy Casks, blended with handpicked and wild collected botanicals, all from Norway.
TN: We have a new smoked hemp gin; this is the first legal hemp product in the local market. We also have the largest selection of Australian whiskies on offer.
PP: Blueberry wine! We started Vintas because we want to give consumers a fresh take on wine. Our wine is made with 100% blueberries and blueberries are high in antioxidants and an excellent source of manganese, calcium, potassium and iron. We currently only sell Vintas Sapphire, but we are working with our vineyard and winery to create new blueberry wine tastes for consumers.
SS: Why is that important to you or your brand?
PP: As mentioned earlier, we currently only have one product which is the Vintas Sapphire. We created our first blueberry wine as a dipstick test for the wine market in the region. Responses have been good and many country distributors within Asia are contacting us to import our wine. Therefore, we are encouraged by the results and want to innovate and come out with new varieties of blueberry wines to our wine list for the discerning wine drinker.
TN: Australia is a whole new world and as such it is crucial to bring in products that will break the mould. Rather than competing directly with the old world, it is essential Australia finds its own footing and develop its own voice in the spirits arena.
BB: Consumer and trade are becoming ever increasingly sophisticated in their tastes. They seek new and interesting experiences. We seek to surprise and delight them.