Bringing Penang Food to the World’s Plate

Penang has firmly staked its place in the global food map, attracting hundreds of thousands of arrivals hungry for a taste of the state’s multitudinous and distinctive cuisines. Penang delicacies are trending, with the potential to reach the ubiquity of international fare the likes of Japanese and Thai. For that to happen, the momentum needs to be maintained in continuing to promote local dishes, educate people about local flavours, and share local ingredients.


To this end, the Penang government has launched Wholesome Penang. Under the programme’s label, the state’s trove of tropical agri-produce will be taken further afield to outstation and overseas markets in line with the burgeoning farm-to-table movement.


The bounty from Penang’s land and seas will serve a number of sectors. A range of ready-to-eat-and-cook products is not only earmarked for the HoReCa trade, but also available for retail purchase in Singapore and China. A brick-and-mortar presence is in the pipeline as well. Customers will be able to buy takeaway platters and beverages at dedicated kiosks or enjoy made-to-order hot meals at restaurants.


Producers selected for the programme stand to gain more than diversified revenue streams. They will additionally receive virtual and ongoing training, marketing support, access to modern processing facilities, custom-made equipment, and systemic guidance to ensure halal and MeSTI compliance. As a participating partner, nourish! will lend an extra helping hand in providing a suite of logistic services.


The initiative is the result of a multi-year effort by various organisations and agencies in championing a locavore lifestyle. The term refers to a diet of foods that are grown or farmed as close as possible to points of sale and preparation. This has grown in practice in recent years among those who want to eat healthier and support their local community while doing so.


Exporting means more than raising awareness of Penang’s food gems. It is also a way for local businesses to increase sales potential and drive further growth. Instead of confining their offerings to a saturated local market, they can expand their vision internationally to discover opportunities for retail, franchising or even production.


With the assistance of assorted industry partners, nourish! has made steps towards this direction. This year saw the launch of Wholesome Penang, a programme that capitalises on the burgeoning farm-to-table movement to introduce the state’s tropical agro-produce overseas.


Earlier in January, Setia SPICE came abuzz with activity with the ninth edition of the Penang International Halal Expo & Conference (PIHEC). Held over a weekend, the annual affair gathers exhibitors and trade clients from home and abroad to promote a slew of Shariah-compliant goods. The 2018 edition drew a 45,000-strong crowd, including delegations representing China, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and Brunei.



It is against this backdrop that the inaugural Northern-Agro Exportation Pocket Talk took place. Catering to food businesses with an eye towards international expansion, the one-day series of lectures allowed the audience insights from diverse speakers spread across every stage of the export process.


Members of authoritative bodies provided the bulk of the afternoon’s discourse. Officers from the Penang State Department of Agriculture and Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) outlined the requirements for ministerial endorsement and halal-classified overseas distribution respectively.


For entrepreneurs interested in seeing their inventory stocked on shelves south of the border, the presentation by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore was a highlight. In addition to their own conditions for export as well as those of the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (MAQIS), the team likewise explained the marketing directions of Singapore’s Health Promotion Board using Islamic Restaurant Singapore and Culinary Art Studio at Kampong Glam as examples.


The corporate side of the equation was not left out either. German industry gas giant Linde was on board to introduce their innovative solutions to varied logistics concerns. Technologies like Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) and dry ice cooling equipment offer business owners total control over the cold chain, from storage and transportation right through to the customer’s plate.


The Northern-Agro Exportation Pocket Talk was organised by Halal Penang with the cooperation of nourish! and The State Exco for Agriculture, Agro-based Industries, Rural Development and Health.

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