** Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Official Inauguration of Growthwell Food’s Innovation and R&D Manufacturing Centre on 24 Nov 2021**
Mr Justin Chou, Executive Director of Growthwell Foods,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good afternoon, everyone. I thank Growthwell Foods for the invitation to the inauguration of its Innovation and R&D Manufacturing Centre. The opening of the Centre marks yet another milestone in the Singapore Food Story.
Enhancing Singapore's Food Security: '30 by 30' Goal
2 We live in a vastly different world from just a decade ago. Many factors such as a growing global population, urbanisation and dwindling resources point towards a future where food supply may not keep up with demand. The global food system is also threatened by climate change, and pest and disease outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
3 Even as we grapple with these challenges, we can and should embrace the opportunities that come our way. These include technological advancements which make work easier, and innovations which bring new and better products. Consumer preferences are also shifting towards sustainable local products as interest in environmental and sustainability issues grows.
4 Sustainability is a priority for Singapore. This year we announced the Singapore Green Plan 2030. It is a roadmap to advance our national agenda on sustainable development. A key effort in the Green Plan is our '30 by 30' goal, where we are working to build up Singapore's agri-food industry to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030. With limited resources at hand, R&D and technology are critical enablers for us to 'grow more with less', in a resource-optimal, climate-resilient, and commercially sustainable manner.
5 R&D and technology is also enabling new food innovations and alternative methods of food production, allowing us to produce protein-rich food from non-traditional sources. While commonly consumed proteins like eggs and fish continue to be part of the food mix in our '30 by 30' goal, alternative proteins such as plant-based proteins have the potential to supplement Singapore's agricultural productivity and contribute to this goal as well.
6 We are still in the early stages of our journey, but such alternative protein products can already be found in many F&B establishments and supermarkets. Judging by the long queues that often form outside new F&B establishments, Singaporeans are always game to try out new food products, so I will not be surprised if demand for alternative protein products grow over time.
Singapore as a Leading Regional R&D Hub for Agri-Food Technology
7 The Government has been working to develop Singapore into a leading regional R&D hub in agri-food technology. To support the transformation, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has been allocated $144 million in grants, from the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 (RIE2025), to drive innovation in future foods, sustainable urban food production, and food safety science under the Singapore Food Story R&D Programme. To date, SFA has awarded over $23 million in funding to 12 projects under this grant call.
8 We also help companies to commercialise R&D efforts and bring their products to market more quickly. One example of this is FoodInnovate, a national food innovation platform launched by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) in collaboration with SFA, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Economic Development Board (EDB), IPI Singapore and JTC Corporation. The platform supports companies like Growthwell in scaling up production and introducing them to in-market partner networks. The opening of Growthwell Foods' Innovation and R&D Manufacturing Centre today is testimony to the strong partnership between the Government and industry to build a vibrant, innovative, and forward-looking ecosystem for the agri-food industry.
9 I am heartened that local companies like Growthwell Foods are rising to the occasion by taking the lead to develop our local expertise and capabilities in agri-technology. Growthwell's new Innovation and R&D Manufacturing Centre will feature a High Moisture Extrusion (HME) facility to improve the texture of its plant-based meat products, and a fully automated large-scale production line capable of producing 4,000 metric tons of products annually.
10 We will continue to work closely with agri-food companies and Institutes of Higher Learning to prime and position Singapore as a leading regional R&D hub for agri-food technologies.
Opportunities for a Pipeline of Local Talents
11 Through these efforts, our agri-food sector is growing from strength to strength. We are no longer seeing back-breaking, laborious, and low-value work that was once associated with the sector. Instead, there will be more career opportunities and pathways opened in fields such as R&D, agriculture and aquaculture sciences, engineering, and info-comm technology. This will create a positive cycle to attract a pipeline of local talent and creating job opportunities for Singaporeans. We will continue to facilitate structured internships and job matching for new entrants, as well as provide upskilling opportunities for those already in the agri-food industry.
Food Safety Remains Important
12 Food safety remains a key consideration, particularly so for companies developing new or novel food products. Companies should conduct safety assessments of their products and put in place systems and processes to assure the safety of their products. SFA will also continue to keep ahead of the curve, as new technologies and products emerge, to ensure a robust food safety system. I encourage our industry partners and consumers to work closely with the Government to ensure food safety for all.
13 On this note, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Growthwell Foods for the inauguration of its Innovation and R&D Manufacturing Centre. I look forward to seeing Growthwell Foods' products on supermarket shelves soon.
14 Thank you.