1 April 2019
The Singapore food industry adapts to new demand for healthy foods
singapore

The global demand for ods and packaging has changed enormously since the turn of the millennium. True, there will always be “micro-trends” as eating and flavour fashions come and go, and businesses need to adapt to those changes if they are to keep pace with their competitors. But the contemporary shift in demand has been quite over-arching as consumers have become acutely aware of how food and the use of packaging can affect their health and both can affect the future of the planet. In South East Asia, along with many of its neighbouring trading countries, Singapore has taken up the mantle to meet the demand. Recent reports show new innovations and projects are proving to be highly successful.

A healthier lifestyle

Surveys suggest that consumers are not always just looking for the next great trend in fashionable food, nor just traditional local foods. Nor are they simply looking for fast food to match the global need to eat fast and get back to busy lives. As obesity rates soar (particularly in the west) and scientific knowledge concerning how food may be detrimental to our bodies becomes more attuned, eating habits and food itself have become a necessity for a healthier lifestyle.

Foods packaging and the environment

As well as there being a need to use packaging to educate the consumer on the healthy value of the food (by displaying food product ingredients), it has also become apparent that even the packaging food comes in is important to the preservation of the environment. Excessive packaging in non-bio-degradable packaging can in itself be detrimental to sustainability targets. Asian and Singaporean scientists and businesses have risen to the challenge of considering new innovations in the food industry and this is just some of the results we are seeing.

Healthier product formulation in Singapore 

Singapore

As well as creating food and drink that is nutritious, and at a reasonable price, the food also has to taste good. In June 2018 the FIA (Food Industry Asia) and the IGD Asia (Institute for Grocery Distribution) began a research study entitled Healthier Product Reformulation in Singapore. The results were previewed at the Goods Forum Global Summit and showed a clear demand for healthier products. The survey also showed that 80% of companies were reformulating their products to meet the demand and another 16% were in the process of doing so.

New funding opportunity 

In the majority of circumstances this has meant Singaporean businesses having to consider creating food products from square 1. Because they are aimed fundamentally at nutrition, they also tend to be aimed at niche sectors of the market. But there is extra funding available through the “Healthier Development Ingredient Scheme” which has been created especially for this purpose. The HPB (Health Promotion Board) have reported that many companies have applied for a grant to support manufacturers in their projects. $435 million is to be distributed over 3 years and a fifth is already allocated.1

How are changes being made?

The three most popular ways of innovation are by using plant-based proteins; switching to more healthy sugar alternatives and developing projects using texture-modified foods. Developers have necessarily put the natural eating habits and traditions of Singaporeans at the heart of their research. Rice and noodles are part of the staple diet in Singapore but they can be high on the GI (glycaemic index). Alchemy Foodtech created a food product which can lower the GI of such foods. Most importantly – without compromising the taste for the consumer and at a reasonable price. Another company, Life3Biotech have concentrated their research and experiments  on creating food products which will help to enhance the environment. Their plant-based protein meat alternative leaves a minimal impact on the environment.

Keeping nutritional value

An on-going issue with any food products placed on the market is shelf-life. Specifically, as food gets older it is likely to lose its nutritional value. High Pressure Processing (HPP) is a cold pasteurization technique which increases shelf-life by subjecting the food product to a high level of isostatic pressure. This is not new. What is new in Singapore is a collaboration between manufacturers to make the equipment for this process more accessible to local businesses. This pay per use model means companies do not have to invest in new equipment to initiate the process.

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1https://www.foodnavigator-asia.com/Article/2018/09/20/Opinion-How-Singapore-s-food-industry-is-shaking-things-up-for-the-future