Minister Alvin Tan, Ministry for Trade and Industry, Singapore, addresses the audience at the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit on October 28.
Minister Tan delivers a keynote address on the third day of debate focused on innovation opportunities in alternative protein welcoming the global agri-food ecosystem to Singapore and highlighting multiple initiatives to forge new partnerships and deepen existing relationships to develop a resilient agri-food supply chain in Singapore and the larger APAC region.
Watch the full ministerial address here:
Read the transcript here:
Ms Jennie Moss, Managing Director, Rethink Events
Ladies and gentlemen,
1 Good morning to everyone here and those tuning in virtually from around the world. It is my pleasure to join you at the fifth edition of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) Agri-Food Innovation Summit. In fact, this is the third time that I am attending the summit.
2 This year’s summit is organised as part of the Singapore International Agri-Food Week (SIAW). Over the past two days, more than 1,000 global leaders have been strategising how best to build greater capabilities, security, and resilience in APAC’s agri-food ecosystem. These conversations are important because we face unparalleled challenges to food supply. The world population is growing and is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, which means the demand for food will grow. Climate change, erratic weather patterns, and global disruptions, such as the invasion of Ukraine, have also compounded this existing challenge, with export bans and soaring food prices globally.
3 Food security and resilience is vital for not just Singapore, but for all of us. As a small country that imports more than 90% of our food supply, Singapore is especially vulnerable to external headwinds. One way to mitigate these risks is to support the growth of our local agri-food ecosystem.
Developing a resilient agri-food supply chain
4 Our “30 by 30” goal guides our efforts to build our agri-food industry’s capacity and capability to produce 30 percent of our nutritional needs locally by 2030. We will continue to diversify our import sources from different countries, grow our local production, and support local companies to grow overseas and export back home.
5 To anchor new agri-food capabilities and bolster local food production, we have been working closely with several agri-food companies on their research and manufacturing projects in Singapore.
a. Last year, Avant, an alternative protein company from Hong Kong which specialises in developing cell-cultured fish, and A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) established a joint research lab in Biopolis, to develop and optimise processes for scalable production of cultivated fish cells.
b. Earlier this year, Kalera, a German vertical farming company, completed their first phase of construction for a fully automated, indoor mega-farm in Singapore. The farm will have its first harvest this month, and is expected to produce up to 500 tonnes of leafy greens annually.
c. You also may be familiar with Eat Just, a company known for their cell-cultured chicken and received the “first-in-the-world” approval by Singapore Food Agency (SFA). In fact, Eat Just broke ground for their two alternative proteins manufacturing facilities in Singapore this year. A big congratulations to Eat Just!
6 I would also like to thank these businesses for crossing very new frontiers. The Government is committed and will continue to strengthen our partnerships with leading agri-food companies globally. Singapore wants to be a leader in agri-food tech and establish a reliable food supply for Singapore.
Strengthening Singapore’s position as a global competitive trading and agri-food innovation hub
7 Singapore is a leading agri-commodities trading hub globally. Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia (CLSA), a capital markets and investment group, forecasted that Singapore will capture 30% of the global agricultural commodity trade by 2025, up from 20 percent in 2015. The growing agri-food community here has also expanded its mandate beyond trading to include manufacturing, research and development (R&D) as well as innovation activities.
8 We want to partner the community to seize new growth opportunities. To strengthen our position as agri-food innovation hub, we have initiatives to ensure that the local agri-food ecosystem, infrastructure, and regulations are conducive for innovation and partnership. Allow me to elaborate and share more.
9 First, Singapore has built a vibrant agri-food ecosystem with a network of venture capital firms, accelerators, and large multinationals that could support each phase of a company’s or a startup’s growth. For instance, Cargill has recently set up its first APAC digital business studio in Singapore to launch at least five new startups in the next three years. These startups will be able to access Cargill’s deep industry expertise to accelerate agri-food innovation in the region.
10 At last year’s summit, I shared about Temasek’s Asia Sustainable Foods Platform – now known as Nurasa – and its partnerships with Cremer and ADM to provide contract development and manufacturing services. Cremer Sustainable Foods’ facility opened this year, offering high-moisture extrusion technology for plant-based products. Nurasa and ADM’s joint venture, ScaleUp Bio, will also establish a precision fermentation lab with A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) and a manufacturing facility in 2023. These shared service providers will enable alternative protein startups to manufacture their products in Singapore without making large capital-intensive investments. More importantly, these partnerships accelerate innovators’ efforts to develop and launch new agri-food solutions.
11 We also have ESCO Aster, our homegrown contract development and manufacturing organisation providing bioprocessing platforms and services, has a series of current partnerships such as Meatable from The Netherlands and Roslin Technologies from The UK as well as future pipeline with Mosa Meat from The Netherlands and Future Meat Technologies from Israel for commercial production of cultivated meat.
12 Within the local agri-food landscape, emerging homegrown startups have also seen early success in expanding to overseas markets. One example is alternative protein startup Next Gen Foods which has partnered restaurants in the UK and Germany to launch its plant-based chicken product, TINDLE. I strongly urge agri-food companies to tap on Singapore as a base for their regional or global expansion.
13 Second, it is critical that we have the right conditions to support business operations and expansion plans. Regulations play a key role in creating a forward-looking environment that is ripe for agri-food innovation. In August, I had the opportunity to attend the launch of the Feed9Billion restaurant week, with a first-in-world tasting of four cell-cultured meat products. The tasting featured a mix of local and foreign startups, including Aleph Farms, Avant Meats, Shiok Meats and Umami Meats, and was made possible with the Singapore Food Agency’s robust novel foods safety assessment framework. This new regulatory sandbox will allow companies to showcase their products safely, while gaining early feedback to improve on qualities such as the appearance, taste and texture of products. To date, Singapore remains the first and only country with a regulatory framework in place to approve the tasting and sale of cultured meat products.
14 SFA opened public consultations for the nation’s first-ever insect regulatory framework earlier this month. It will guide the human consumption of insects and expanding the types of feed substrates. We may squirm at it now, but one day it may become mainstream! Just think of NEWater – today all of us drink it without hesitation, and some even think NEWater tastes better than tap water!
15 Singapore now joins other regions, such as the European Union, in enabling a business environment for the growth of the insect industry. Enterprise Singapore and Food Valley Netherlands are collaborating to co-produce the first-ever Insect Innovation Scan: Europe and Singapore. This joint publication will serve as a resource guide for current and aspiring insect producers, investors and end-users on the regulatory developments, market opportunities and challenges of the insect industry in Singapore and Europe.
16 We hope to cement Singapore’s position as the preferred global trading and leading agri-food innovation hub, by developing the right ecosystem, infrastructure, and regulatory environment whether for alternative proteins or insects. This will provide an ideal location for companies to incubate ideas, launch products and scale operations globally.
17 In closing, strengthening food security is not easy. It is a long journey that all of us are embarking on, in the conversations that you hold between one another and on this stage at this summit, are a step in the right direction to ensure that our agri-food systems are future-ready. I am excited about forging new partnerships and deepening existing relationships to develop resilient agri-food supply chains and promote agri-food innovation in Singapore and in the larger APAC region.
18 I wish you a very successful conference ahead. Thank you.