SIT, Enterprise SG and JTC Jointly Launch FoodPlant to Advance Food Innovation
The S$13 million facility will bolster Singapore’s food innovation scene through Small-Batch Production and R&D
On 22 April 2022, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), Enterprise Singapore (Enterprise SG) and JTC jointly launched FoodPlant, Singapore’s first shared facility for small-batch food production that is licensed by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). Located in JTC Food Hub @ Senoko, the facility’s opening was officiated by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies.
FoodPlant provides affordable access to a wide range of pilot scale equipment, research and development (R&D) consultancy services, and upskilling courses. These services aim to equip local companies with enhanced capabilities to develop new, innovative food products in response to evolving consumer preferences. FoodPlant is expected to benefit at least 200 food manufacturers and support the development of at least 400 new food products by 2026.
The 1,107 square metre facility boasts 12 rooms with specialised food production equipment, including:
- a Twin-Screw Extruder which employs a High Moisture Extrusion Technology (HMET) to texturise plant-based protein into viable meat alternatives;
- a Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) system for microbial inactivation, improved extraction, drying acceleration, amongst other advantages;
- a Retort machine that provides commercial sterilisation of food to extend shelf life and storage under ambient condition by packing and heating food within flexible retort pouches or glass jars; and
- a Spray Dryer with an integrated fluidised bed to enable creation of products such as milk powder, instant beverages and nutrient-dense food to address elderly needs.
The equipment aid companies to expand their product portfolios and penetrate new consumer segments. For example, companies may use the Twin-Screw Extruder to produce plant-based meat analogues. Additionally, companies looking to expand abroad can make use of the Retort or the Spray Dryer machines to extend product shelf life or change product formats to meet various requirements.
Food products manufactured in the facility can be sold commercially as they are produced in an SFA licenced facility. Companies will be able to trial new products in small batches and sell them to consumers to conduct market testing. This will allow them to take in feedback at an early stage in order to sharpen their product development process.
FoodPlant will also provide skills training for food technologists to strengthen the industry’s adoption of advanced food processing technologies. The industry can look forward to specialised upskilling courses such as “High Moisture Extrusion Technology (HMET) for “Meat Analogues”, “Food and Feed Extrusion Technology” and “Retort Processing”. The courses are led by local and foreign experts such as FoodPlant’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Lim Bee Gim, who is also an Associate Professor at SIT. Courses can also be tailored to companies’ specific needs.
To boost collaborations among local food companies as well as cross-border partnerships, FoodPlant and SIT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Foodbowl New Zealand, a government-supported, pilot-scale food processing facility located in South Auckland on 20 April 2022. The parties will work with each other to develop capabilities in food innovation and manufacturing across shared facilities through knowledge sharing and extension of industry networks.
SIT President Professor Chua Kee Chaing shared: “FoodPlant is a key component in SIT’s sustainable food innovation programme which aims to help local companies grow and innovate through food technology. It is an enabling platform for companies to perform small-batch testing and production of innovative food products developed through R&D collaborations with SIT, other food R&D players or among themselves. Its affordable pay-per-use model lowers the barriers to market entry such as high upfront costs in setting up a manufacturing plant or being charged for minimum order quantities when accessing commercial food processing equipment. Through FoodPlant, SIT hopes to contribute to Singapore’s transformation as a food innovation hub.”
Mr Jeffrey Siow, Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer, Enterprise SG, said: “Many of our companies are developing new products like plant-based meat alternatives or cell-cultured proteins through FoodInnovate to meet growing consumer demand. FoodPlant provides these companies access to advanced food processing equipment, technologies and expertise, which in turn enables faster innovation and time to market.”
Mr Alvin Tan, Industry Cluster Group, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, JTC, said: “The opening of FoodPlant is a significant milestone in strengthening Singapore’s food manufacturing ecosystem. FoodPlant will not only plug the gaps that food innovators face today but also provide a platform for partnerships and capability development. I look forward to seeing more collaborations amongst food innovators and exciting new products launched.”
Ahead of the launch, FoodPlant had secured 17 membership sign-ups by companies and individuals who are keen to embark on or further their innovation journey. These companies include Agrocorp International, Dahmeh Pte Ltd and SGProtein. Companies can access FoodPlant’s facilities and consultancy services. Interested parties can visit https://www.foodplant.com.sg/ to find out more.
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