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Singaporeans are renowned for their gastronomic passion. In light of this, it is not surprising that Singapore is home to a thriving domestic food production sector, with over a thousand enterprises producing drinks, confectionery, dairy, snacks, and more. For example, frozen food goods from Tee Yih Jia's Spring Home and chip products from Cocoba's Irvins may be found in various countries, from the Philippines to the United States.

Singapore has been known as Asia's "Silicon Valley of food" due to its efforts to encourage innovation generally and innovative foods specifically, such as alternative proteins. In 2020, Singapore was the first nation to legalize the sale of chickens raised in a laboratory.

 

Innovate your Food Business to Greater Height

It is projected that by 2030, food expenditures in Asia would have more than doubled from the current US$4 trillion (S$5.56 trillion). The food industry now has access to some promising new prospects because of this. More food factory has also been developing such as Food Vision which is located at Mandai.

However, due to the fierce competition and ever-shifting preferences of consumers, businesses in this sector must constantly innovate to stay ahead. There is now a larger need for food that is not only easily accessible, but also nutritious, delicious, and long-lasting because of the epidemic. With an aging population comes a greater need for foods that are appropriate for the diets of the elderly. This is especially true in Asia and other parts of the globe.

Businesses will need to innovate if they want to keep up with shifting customer preferences and reap the benefits of expansion. Through innovation, businesses are able to carve out a certain segment of the market and increase their part of the pie at home and abroad. This may be accomplished via the introduction of brand-new goods targeted at untapped markets or through the strategic differentiation of existing offerings.

It's reasonable that many SMEs would be hesitant to engage on an innovation journey due to the perceived difficulty and high expenses associated with investing in food factory and their daily operations.

Some small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may have been hesitant to engage in product development out of a desire to save capital in the face of falling earnings, while others may have seen such endeavors as being more properly the province of larger corporations.

However, it is even more critical for businesses to locate that niche as quickly as possible owing to increased competition and narrower margins brought on by recent increases in energy prices and raw materials.

 

Common use of facilities and resources

The government has established support mechanisms to assist our food industries in light of worries about a shortage of facilities and expensive equipment. To aid food businesses in their efforts to innovate and commercialize their products, Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) established the multi-agency program FoodInnovate in 2018.

FoodInnovate gives its members with shared space, the tools they need to foster an innovative culture, and introductions to a network of collaborators. Close to 400 innovative goods have been brought to market with its help.

For instance, Swee Heng Bakery and Alchemy Foodtech worked together to create a low glycemic index version of their popular pandan chiffon cake with FoodInnovate.

To further facilitate small-batch food production at the JTC Food Hub@Senoko, EnterpriseSG, JTC, and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) have recently unveiled FoodPlant, a joint facility. Businesses in the food industry may save money by leasing space in the FoodPlant's production facilities and using the facility's extensive array of cutting-edge processing equipment.

To appeal to a wider audience, the facility is equipped with high-moisture extrusion technologies, such as a twin-screw extruder, which may be used to create plant-based meat alternatives.

Those in the export or shelf-stable production industries may take use of modern technology like retort machines to increase the longevity of their goods. Local eatery Fish Soup Paradise plans to employ retort technology to double the shelf life of its broths from three months when frozen to six months when kept at room temperature.

Future foods, senior nutrition, and cutting-edge food processing are all areas where businesses might benefit from consulting with an industry expert.

 

Accelerating the Pace of Invention

SMEs also struggle with the lengthy gestation time associated with R&D and innovation, and the difficulties of showing 'proof of concept. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often have trouble locating qualified original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to collaborate with on pilot testing requirements.

At FoodPlant, you may make a few of your product to see whether it sells before making a large quantity. This frees up small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in research and development and create new goods in small quantities, without worrying about meeting the minimum order number generally needed by original equipment manufacturers.

By having access to a food-licensed facility like FoodPlant, SMEs may now verify novel goods following R&D and undertake fast market testing before proceeding into full-scale manufacturing. This allows for low-risk product testing.

 

Collaborative efforts to stimulate creativity and new ideas

Collaborations have the potential to be game-changers for innovation. With the proper international partners, SMEs may expand their capabilities and achieve greater success.

To help food producers innovate and adapt to the demands of Australian customers, EnterpriseSG has been working with the Monash Food Innovation Centre since 2019.

The partnership has been used by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) like Chocoworks, which produces low-sugar chocolates, to get customer feedback from Australia. As a result of this research, Chocoworks will include changes to its products specifically designed for the Australian market.

Foodbowl New Zealand is a government-supported, pilot-scale food processing facility in New Zealand, and SIT and FoodPlant are collaborating with them to build their food manufacturing and innovation capacities. FoodPlant and Foodbowl New Zealand will investigate ways to work together to create innovative technologies that will enhance food production while also contributing to the country's environmental objectives.

 

Developing Human Resources to Fuel Creativity

You can't invent anything without the proper personnel. We advocate for businesses to think long-term and invest in their employees as a means to that end.

There are already educational options accessible. Learning how to use the sophisticated tools included in FoodPlant is a specialty of SIT. Such as the first-of-its-kind high moisture extrusion technology (HMET) continuing education training course that will educate food technology experts how to utilize the high moisture extruder and how the HMET process texturizes plant-based protein into viable meat substitutes.

EnterpriseSG is collaborating closely with SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore to identify additional developing talents that will be needed to support the innovation of Singapore's food industries, and this collaboration will help the country cultivate a robust pipeline of talent in this sector. As they emerge, we will create training programs or talent exchange initiatives to meet the need.

More small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should embrace an innovative attitude now, when so much help is at their fingertips. There has to be more ground-breaking new items introduced, both here and abroad. Singapore's aspirations to become Asia's preeminent food and nutrition powerhouse will be bolstered by this.