Keynote Address by Minister of State Alvin Tan at the Asia Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit – November 17, 2021


A very good morning to all. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 4th run of Rethink’s Asia Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit in Singapore. This is an important platform that brings together leading agri-food players, to exchange ideas and foster partnerships that will shape the future of food systems in Asia.

Sustained interest in the agri-food sector in Singapore

This year’s summit is organised as a part of the inaugural Singapore International Agri Food Week (SIAW). I am pleased to share that we continue to see strong interest from the agri-food industry to tap on the emerging opportunities in Asia, particularly here in Singapore. Many companies are setting up new plants or expanding their operations here.

Last month, I had the opportunity to witness the opening of Oatly’s first oat milk production facility in Asia, right here in Singapore. Oatly the world’s leading plant-based dairy company is working with local beverage company Yeo’s to produce 60 million litres of oat milk annually, to support the fast-growing market for plant-based dairy in Asia.

Another example is Eat Just, which received approval for the sale of cultured meat products in Singapore. They will be establishing the world’s largest plant protein isolate production facility in Singapore, as well as producing their cell-cultured meat, known as GOOD Meat in their facilities here.

Other global players are also choosing to expand their operations in Singapore. For example, Dutch company Signify, a global leader in horticulture lighting, is setting up its Centre of Excellence (COE) in Singapore which will be its first COE outside of the Netherlands. This will allow urban growers in Asia Pacific to tap on Signify’s expertise to expand their operations.

I would like to thank these businesses for their support and confidence in Singapore. We will continue to strengthen partnerships with these leading companies and many others.

Singapore has developed strategies to become a leading hub for agri-food

At last year’s summit, I shared about our three “A”s strategy for Singapore to become a leading hub for agri-food tech and innovation. First, we want to advance agri-food R&D and innovation. Second, we want to accelerate our agri-food development under pro-business macro conditions. Third, we want to broaden our access to the world.

Singapore is committed to realise our ambitions to be at the forefront of agri-food innovation. Over the past few years, we have allocated significant resources to bolster our R&D capabilities, develop suitable infrastructure to support novel agri-food solutions, ensure financing support, and provide regulatory guidance for agri-food companies. This includes the S$144 million Singapore Food Story R&D programme, as well as ESG’s S$55 million funding allocation towards accelerating the growth of promising local agriculture and aquaculture companies.

Beyond these initiatives, most recently, Temasek Holdings has cemented important partnerships with leading industry players to develop infrastructure for agri-food product development. These include partnerships:

a. With ADM, a global nutrition leader, to establish a contract development and manufacturing facility for fermentation-based alternative protein companies;

b. With Cremer, a renowned German agri-food manufacturer, to offer contract manufacturing services for plant-based alternative protein products and;

c. With A*STAR, Singapore’s leading R&D public agency to establish the Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC) to provide wet labs for R&D, test kitchens for pilot manufacturing and advisory support for Food Tech startups.

Partnerships like these will help innovators accelerate their efforts to develop and launch new agri-food solutions.

In addition, we have also launched new innovation models to catalyse innovations in our local agri-food ecosystem. Enterprise Singapore (ESG) has partnered 6 agri-food tech accelerators such as Big Idea Ventures and GROW to support start-ups in fundraising, product development, commercialisation, and internationalisation. This will help nurture over 150 agri-food tech start-ups in Singapore by 2023. Our Economic Development Board (EDB) also partners large corporates to create new ventures based in Singapore. A recent example is EDB’s partnership with Bosch to expand into new domains such as aquaculture with Bosch’s first spin-off venture, AquaEasy, which provides an Internet of Things (IoT)-based solution for shrimp farming.

On the regulatory front, A*STAR, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has launched the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) to drive local food safety research and capabilities. There was also a Roundtable on Novel Food Regulations held earlier this week for regulators, industry players, and international organisations to cross-share and address the challenges in safety assessments of novel foods. Such efforts will support the commercialisation of novel food products as Singapore’s food innovation ecosystem continues to grow.


There is so much more that we can do to reimagine our food system for our future generations and contribute to global food resilience. I am excited to see how these exciting collaborations and initiatives as well as the new partnerships, innovations and products that will be born from this Summit will help to contribute towards our efforts to ensure that our agri-food systems are future ready. So I wish all of you a fruitful discussion at the Summit.

Thank you.