Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 08/27/2014 06:00 | By Channel NewsAsia

Malaysia to open first overseas concept store in Singapore

Malaysia to open first overseas concept store in Singapore

Malaysia to open first overseas concept store in Singapore

SINGAPORE: Malaysia wants to showcase and export its local produce to the world, and Singapore has been chosen for its first overseas concept store, called Agrobazaar. Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak had suggested the idea to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during a leaders' retreat in April.

Both leaders will officially open the store on Wednesday (Aug 27). A statement by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the launch of Agrobazaar in Singapore and Prime Minister Najib's visit "underscore the excellent state of bilateral relations" and "reaffirm the commitment of both countries to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the spirit of friendship, mutual respect and common benefit".

Agrobazaar is a grocery store, cafe and restaurant rolled into one in the Kampong Glam area. It only sells Malaysian produce or agro-food - with nearly 300 different items ranging from coffee to fruit. One of its most popular products is the durian. Here, the King of Fruits is said to be especially fresh coming from a chilled room of between 12 and 17 degrees Celsius. The durian stays fresh for up to 10 days, compared to just three to four days when it is unchilled.

Other products on offer include ready-made meals. Mr Shukri Ahmad, manager of Agrobazaar Malaysia, said: "Right now, it's a trend among Singaporeans to have these kinds of products, so that after work, they can go back home and prepare the food for their family."

Singapore was Malaysia's biggest importer of agro-food last year, to the tune of S$1.7 billion. Malaysia expects this amount to grow by six per cent this year, and is hoping the initiative by the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry and the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) will bear further fruit.

Mr Ahmad Ishak, director general of FAMA said: "Almost 20 per cent of our agro-food exports are to Singapore. You can also see it in the culture, in terms of the way Singaporeans enjoy our local fruits or local vegetables."

The store has seen an average of 50 customers per day since its soft opening in July. Its management expects that number to rise to 400 by the end of the year. It is also planning to expand into cities such as Hong Kong and London.

Following the opening of Agrobazaar, Prime Minister Lee and his wife will host Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor to a tour of the newly-completed Singapore Sports Hub, followed by dinner, on Wednesday evening.    - CNA/de

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