Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong
Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism
In Brunei, the local retail food service industry represents one of the largest service sectors in the country and is also one of the largest employers. To this end, the Government believes that this sector will continue to assist in our efforts to create a strong diverse and sustainable economy. At the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, we applaud the F&B industry and celebrate the positive impact which it has had on the economy, as this enables us to move closer to the diversification goal of Wawasan 2035 of His Majesty’s Government.
Today, there is no doubt that we have a vibrant food service and retail food sector in Brunei. Growth in this sector is driven by our expanding population, more sophisticated consumer tastes and changing demographics. Our varied culture has resulted in an eclectic mix of cuisines, from vendors selling traditional Malay food to restaurants specialising in Middle Eastern, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Western food, to name a few. In recent years, Brunei has also witnessed a huge influx of international fast food giants, some of which include Starbucks, Burger King, Papa Rich and most recently the Magnum Ice Cream Store.
According to the latest report from MORA in 2016, the country recorded a total of 1,343 Halal F&B outlets in March last year. In fact, the three new rows of shop lots at Setia Kenangan 2 in Kiulap consists of 21 restaurants and cafes, four of which opened in December with more expected to start business in the near future. I believe that there is no better time to be living in Brunei, than today. Not only have we witnessed an increase in the range of food available, but there has also been a significant improvement in the quality and standards within the F&B industry.
This is obviously beneficial for the local population, but will also serve as an additional attraction when selling Brunei as a tourist destination. We firmly believe that a thriving F&B industry will further boost our economy.
However, as the industry continues to expand businesses will need to know how to deal with a more competitive market, and this will require them to become more aware of strategies which can lead to their increased success. Hence, the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism has decided to support Inspire Magazine’s efforts to seek out and share best practices from some of the most successful local F&B outlets in Brunei, and experts from around the world. Indeed, it can be said that one of the main advantages of competition, is that it can result in a stronger, more resilient F&B industry with a more capable work force which will only make us stronger as a nation.
With this in mind, MPRT has exciting, innovative plans for the future of this industry. I am proud to announce the launch of the Brunei Gastronomic Week from 22nd to 26th February 2017. This is an initiative of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism and the Brunei Tourism Board aimed at encouraging local restaurants to come up with unique dishes which represent Brunei’s identity. We believe that this strategy can be effectively used to attract tourists from around the world and therefore would like to cordially invite all the restaurants in Brunei to participate in this initiative. I would like to take this opportunity to remind those involved in the F&B industry that it is important to continue practicing the highest ethical standards in food preparation. Beyond providing a palatable meal, we also urge vendors to take into consideration the nutritious value of the meals on their menu so that we can all contribute to building a healthier nation.
As you can see there are many exciting things happening in Brunei. The time is right for new ventures and new businesses to take their place in our economy. It is my hope to see Bruneian F&B businesses flourish and expand beyond our borders, to share the best of Brunei with the rest of the world. And it is up to you to make this happen.