Doing business in Asia is exciting and requires flexibility.
Victor Foo, Managing Director of GNT Singapore tells Food News International the reasons for setting up shop in Singapore and its strategies in the region
FNI: Why did GNT Group open a subsidiary in Singapore in 2010?
Foo: The GNT Group has been expanding rapidly since it was founded in 1978.
Especially in the years of 2000, we experienced a boost in growth due to an increasing demand for healthy nutrition worldwide.
Consumers today are avoiding additives and ask for clear and understandable product labeling to make substantiated purchase decisions.
Also, governments are introducing stricter legislation with respect to food ingredients.
This reinforces a growing demand for natural color solutions and has supplied GNT with additional business opportunities worldwide as more manufacturers are looking for alternatives to meet consumers’ expectations.
Recent research, conducted by market research institute TNS on behalf of GNT, showed that 73% of the Asians put particular attention to a well-balanced diet.
Some 80% check the product label to find healthy food and beverages and 52% try to exclude products containing artificial ingredients from their diet.
Opening a subsidiary in Singapore was therefore a consistent step towards expanding and strengthening our global presence.
Singapore proved to be an excellent location as it is centrally located and has a good connection to all major Asian markets GNT is supplying to.
Being on-site enables us to even better give tailor-made advice and support our clients driving their innovations.
FNI: What requirements did Singapore meet for GNT Group to set up shop here?
Foo: Singapore convinces with several aspects, such as political stability, modern telecommunication, transportation infrastructure, its pool of highly educated workforce and its ease of doing business.
Furthermore, the country is a highly strategic location as key markets in the region are easily accessible within a few hours of flight.
FNI: What business cultures/environments in Asia did the Group learn that is different from its home ground?
Foo: One of the key learnings in respect to business cultures is that customers in most Asian countries are more ‘face saving’ than it is the case in Europe or America, for example.
Meetings are very friendly and cordial.
Immediate decisions or outright rejections on proposals are usually not made.
Therefore, it is important to be able to understand nonverbal cues and to read between the lines. In order to accommodate this as much as possible, GNT recruited people with local experience. This assures that our customers and prospects feel comfortable and appreciated.
FNI: What do your customers appreciate when doing business with the company in Singapore?
Foo: As market leader in Colouring Foods we are providing our customers with services throughout the entire production process.
From legal advice, detailed knowledge in applications and production or support in their marketing activities.
We can offer the biggest range of shades on the market – for nearly every product category and support our clients in finding future-proof solutions for their products by combining color brilliance and stability with naturalness and clear label products.
Our customers benefit from local knowledge paired with global support capabilities with incredible turnaround times – partially thanks to our location.
FNI: What advice would you give to companies thinking of setting up an office in the region?
Foo: First of all, review the markets that are key to your business.
Then, determine if it make sense to locate your regional office in Singapore.
Weigh its pros and cons in respect of aspects, such as production, logistics or traffic and compare it with other countries in question before making a decision.
All in all, it depends very much on the product or service a company is providing and where the markets in Asia Pacific are located it is servicing to.