May 30, 2022 | By Gerardine Donough-Tan | Image: Montgomery Asia’s inaugural International Café & Beverage Show

With almost all COVID-19 controls lifted, international trade shows and conferences taking place in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur April through June are enjoying increased interest and attendance. And after a two-year absence, companies and brands from Australia and New Zealand are reappearing on the show floors of their Asian neighbours.

While some organisers and exhibitors expressed cautious optimism about budding ‘green shoots’, response to trade events in both cities was good and the future looks promising.

Singapore Maritime Week set the pace from April 4-8 with a slew of events and activities. Then came Singapore International Water Week and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore from April 17-21, drawing more than 15,000 participants to Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Expo and Convention Centre. The Water Expo and Environment Expo featured more than 300 local and international exhibitors.

More business events followed in May, with June events still recruiting attendees.

Edward Liu, managing director of Conference & Exhibition Management Services (CEMS), opined: “Some MICE organisers are making a tentative comeback into the business. It is likely that the MICE industry landscape will change in Southeast Asia. Changes will be taking place sooner rather than later. ASEAN governments would welcome this influx of foreign organisers.”

Indeed, French-Singaporean Comexposium Singapore’s returning Milipol Asia-Pacific 2022 attracted almost 8,000 security industry professionals from 79 countries to its exhibition and conference at MBS from May 18-20. Australian exhibits included digital public safety technology, AI-based multisensory analytics technology and life-sized training dummies.

CEMS’s 9th Cafe Asia and 3rd Restaurant Asia, also at MBS from May 19-21, welcomed some 6,000 attendees, including 1,500 public visitors on the third day – almost double the count of the hybrid iteration last November. This time, there were 115 exhibitors from 16 countries, including Australasia and South Korea, increasingly prominent at exhibitions this year.

Australian brands focused on innovative offerings, such as sparkling water infused with “wonky fruit”, aroma recovery, extraction and evaporation solutions for the food and beverage sector and premium water. New Zealand’s representative was specialty espresso coffee. Exhibitors expressed confidence in the huge Southeast Asian market, with foreign buyer interest from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Interestingly, running in parallel from May 19-21 at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre was Montgomery Asia’s inaugural International Café & Beverage Show (ICBS), one among more than 20 conferences and exhibitions scheduled there between April and December. Over 150 brands from seven countries were represented at ICBS, which drew 6,011 attendees from 34 countries, with the third day open to the public.

Christopher McCuin, managing director of Montgomery Asia, said: “With border restrictions now eased, we saw international interest in the event pick up pre-show. We had a few major brands join us from Australia. We have already seen a plethora of enquiries for 2023 from Australian and New Zealand companies as well as from across the globe.”

On June 22-24, Montgomery Asia will resume two of its other trade shows, Speciality & Fine Food Asia (SFFA) and Restaurant, Pub & Bar Asia, at Suntec Singapore, beefed up by three new co-located events, Speciality Coffee & Tea Asia, Meat & Poultry Asia and Food2Go for “a more well-rounded trade event experience”.

Australia is one of eight country pavilions at SFFA. Amelia Walsh, trade and investment commissioner at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) Singapore, said: “Austrade Singapore are excited to be back in person promoting some of Australia’s finest agri-products. We are passionate about providing safe, sustainable produce to our partners across the globe and SFFA is the ideal trade show to help give Australian businesses an opportunity to highlight their premium offerings to buyers in Southeast Asia.”

An Australian brand on show at Cafe Asia