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Partnership Inspiring Food Innovation in Southeast Asia


Lim Tsu Ern

Dalilah Ghazalay
(+65) 6334 7030

U.S. Dairy Partnership Inspiring Food Innovation in Southeast Asia

New Singapore agreement is the latest collaboration by USDEC to drive growth in dynamic hub of food manufacturing.

SINGAPORE, May 31, 2018 – The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC) at Singapore Polytechnic signed a partnership agreement in May that furthers U.S. dairy’s commitment to food innovation to meet the needs of Southeast Asian customers and consumers. Valued at US$690 million, Southeast Asia is the second largest market for U.S. dairy exports globally and the largest outside of North America.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) lays out a framework under which USDEC and U.S. dairy suppliers will work together with FIRC to deepen dairy knowledge, develop innovative food products for the Southeast Asian market, and provide consumers in the region with more options suited to their specific tastes. The agreement comes at an opportune time in addressing the region’s double burden of malnutrition, where dairy can support nutritional solutions for better health and wellness outcomes.

“Singapore is a hotbed of food innovation and the gateway to Southeast Asia,” said USDEC president and CEO Tom Vilsack. “FIRC’s team of food technologists, packaging specialists and engineers is at the forefront of establishing Singapore as a strategic food hub. We are very excited to be working with this innovative group and look forward to sharing U.S. dairy technology and expertise.”

“One of FIRC’s objectives is to leverage science and technology to develop food innovations and capture new markets,” said Loong Mann Na, Centre Director FIRC. “We expect the dairy knowledge and spirit of innovation brought by USDEC and its members will advance progress toward that goal.”

The growing U.S. dairy product portfolio stems from investments in research and innovation all along the dedicated supply chain—from farm families to milk processors to cheese and ingredient manufacturers. The United States’ commitment to delivering a sustainably produced milk supply can satisfy the region’s growing appetite for dairy. USDEC has staffed an office in Southeast Asia for 20 years, and currently around two dozen U.S. suppliers have personnel based in Singapore or Southeast Asia. 

“This partnership allows U.S. dairy suppliers to be at the forefront of the product development process, become more customer-centric and enhance their level of service,” says Martin Teo, technical director, food applications, with USDEC’s Singapore office.

Teo will serve as the key contact between U.S. dairy suppliers and FIRC. When he joined USDEC in March of this year, he brought with him 25 years of experience in the Southeast Asian food industry. Like the FIRC MOU, he is part of the broader U.S. plan to deepen U.S. dairy ties with Southeast Asia and meet the region’s dairy needs. 

USDEC’s 2018 activities focus on demonstrating how the United States’ sustainably produced lineup of dairy protein, milk powder, specialty ingredients and cheese fit the taste preferences and nutritional requirements of the region. Those activities fall into two primary areas:

  • Health and wellness focused: A permeate workshop at the FIRC facilities, the U.S. presence at Food Ingredients Vietnam, U.S. Dairy Innovation Seminars in Vietnam and Singapore, a technical training mission to the United States for Southeast Asian food R&D specialists (in conjunction with the 2018 Institute of Food Technologists Expo), and participation in the Food Ingredients Asia show provide further opportunities for U.S. suppliers and Southeast Asian buyers to work together, build relationships and explore the benefits of U.S. dairy ingredients.

  • Culinary focused: USDEC hosted cheese receptions, showcases and chef events as this year’s official dairy partner for Singapore’s World Gourmet Summit and at Food and Hotel Asia. A cheese innovation seminar is on tap for August. These and additional events seek to promote awareness and heritage in U.S. cheese, and demonstrate how U.S. cheese varieties, quality, value and innovation can meet the needs of the Southeast Asian foodservice sector.

For more resources on nutrition, trends and applications with U.S. cheeses and to access the supplier directory, visit the Southeast Asia section of our website


About FIRC
FIRC, a joint venture between Singapore Polytechnic and Enterprise Singapore, a statutory board under Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, was formed in 2007 to provide food companies with technical expertise in new product and process development. It is part of the government’s vision to position Singapore as a leading food and nutrition hub in Asia.

About U.S. Dairy Export Council
The U.S. Dairy Export Council® (USDEC) is a nonprofit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. USDEC aims to enhance U.S. global competitiveness through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. As the world’s largest producer of cow’s milk, the U.S. dairy industry offers a sustainably produced, world-class and ever-expanding portfolio of cheese varieties as well as nutritional and functional dairy ingredients (e.g., skim milk powder, lactose, whey proteins). USDEC, together with its network of overseas representatives in Southeast Asia and around the world, also works directly with global buyers and end-users to accelerate customer purchasing and innovation success with quality U.S. dairy products and ingredients.