Innovative Foods for the Future

3D-printed Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies, Vegan Chilli Crab Pie, Plant-based Seaweed Chicken with Spirulina – these top three winners at the recent Food Technology Project Exhibition and Industry Engagement Day are all products created by final-year stud

Identified as a key industry for Singapore’s economic growth, food technology is set to help triple the country’s food self-sufficiency to about 30% by 2030. Urban farming and plant-based alternatives are seen as promising means to achieve this goal, and the government has provided support in various forms, from provision of research grants to formulating new food guidelines.

Held on 16 April 2021 by the Singapore Institute of Technology and Massey University, the annual ‘Food Technology Project Exhibition and Industry Engagement Day’ was a culmination of learning outcomes from the final-year Food Technology students.

Graduating students applied the knowledge acquired over their four years of studies as they pitched their food products and businesses cases to both faculty and industry partners. These innovative projects included a comprehensive look into the SITizens’ idea generation, prototyping, proposals for scaling up, capital and operating costs estimates, food safety and risk analyses.

The following projects emerged as the top three winners for featuring novel ingredients and manufacturing methodologies, winning certificates as well as cash prizes for the respective teams:

Riding on the popularity of finger food seaweed chicken, the team – comprising Ng Mun Yee, Nuha Iesa, Grace Chua, Quek Xing Yu, and Loke Yin Theng – partnered with leading industry ingredients manufacturer Roquette to create the plant-based Seaweed Chicken with Spirulina.

The SITizens’ version of the product is infused with spirulina, a superfood that contains high nutritional benefits, such as high proteins and a balanced amino acid profile. It is targeted at consumers who are consciously making informed choices and seeking healthier, more environmentally sustainable dietary options. The plant-based version comprises pea protein, a blend of seasonings, and spirulina as an alternative to the meat portion of the product. It is then wrapped with seaweed for a boost of flavour and nutrition.

The team’s ingenious combination of nutritious and novel ingredients earned the praise of the panel of judges, comprising academic leaders from the Chemical Engineering and Food Technology cluster, as well as members of the Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) from Nestle R&D Centre, KH Roberts Group, and Tereos Asia.

SITizens Julene Chua, Nur Afiqah Binte Mohammad Yusof, Wong Siew Eng, Ong Wai Peng, Chua Wei Xuan, and Kam Xue Ting created a vegan version of the Chili Crab Pie in response to the increasing demand for meat-free alternatives.

Through their market research, focus group sessions and consumer surveys, they discovered that there were limited options for meat-free Asian products. The team collaborated with industry partner Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing (TYJ), to extend their range of meat-free products, and successfully developed a ready-to-eat Vegan Chilli Crab Pie, which is also convenient for the busy consumer.

They conducted extensive trials and multiple experimentations with novel plant-based ingredients to replicate the taste of meat and flavour. The high protein product requires minimal preparation and provides the full experience of a chilli crab dish – without the mess that comes with deshelling the crabs. 

The team was commended for marrying a popular local dish with an unconventional product concept, and for making the product a convenient dish to prepare.

The team consisting of Koh Rui En, Sylvell Neo Yan Ting, Cao Li Ming, Ernest Oo Jun Lin, and Esmond Ong Hong Bao, identified a huge growth opportunity in the 3D-printed food market in Asia Pacific. They ideated 16 different ready-to-eat products before finalising their creation, ‘Peattur Chockies’ – 3D-printed peanut butter chocolate cookies.

The idea is to sell Peattur Chockies in vending machines, where customers can observe the cookies being printed on the spot after customising their desired sweetness level, shape, and size. The team also proposed that pre-orders can be made through a mobile app, and the product to be sold at $3.00 for a 40-gram packet (estimated eight pieces).

The judges lauded the team’s effort in overcoming challenges, such as printing the cookie batter through a narrow nozzle. The team managed to modify the process and formulation to overcome the constraint, and developed a product that is unique, innovative, and attractive.

“The SITizens have outdone themselves. Most of them addressed technically-challenging problem statements, and did a good job in developing potentially scalable and marketable products that are appealing and tasty,” said Assoc Prof Wang Mei Yin, Programme Lead, Food Technology, SIT. “I wish them all the best as they venture into the working world.”