Mong-Hong Wong, president of the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association (SFMA) told FoodNavigator-Asia: “We have to rely on exports as our domestic market is very small. Without growth in exports, there will be no expansion for food companies.”
A small population and low levels of agriculture due to a scarcity of land has determined this focus, Wong added.
As the industry expands, food manufacturers should respond to consumer demands for nutritional and healthy foods, he said.
The government of Singapore has recently invested heavily in its food sector, pledging $45m in November 2011 to drive growth over the next five years throughout the industry.
This national scheme is focused on enhancing productivity and building a skilled workforce as well as consumer-led innovation.
The government agency Spring that is leading the national growth initiative, also noted that driving exports is key to enabling manufacturers to achieve economies of scale.
Wong said that the high quality of locally produced food products will help drive growth, and that it is the, “respect that food enterprises give to food safety has culminated our reputation in food safety and quality, thereby giving us a good image.”
Innovation is a key focus for Singapore, and as part of the over-arching investment in the country’s food sector the Food Innovation Resource Centre (FIRC) was set up in 2007 as a joint initiative by government agency Spring and Singapore Polytechnic with a new facility unveiled in November last year.
Mann Na Ngnan-Loong, centre director for FIRC, told FoodNavigator-Asia that the centre is focused on helping food companies compete more effectively in the global market.
Speciality sectors within the centre include bakery, beverages, processed meats, ready-to-eat meals and ready-to-use sauces and soups, Ngan-Loong said.
There are services within the centre to provide local food companies with the expertise needed to drive new product concepts and formulations.
The SMFA is working closely with the government agency Spring, who jointly set up the innovation centre with Singapore Polytechnic, Wong said, to develop new food technologies at the innovation centre.