Singaporean flavours pioneer celebrates 50 years with new $20m manufacturing facility

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Minister for Trade & Industry Chan Chun Sing (centre) cutting the 50th anniversary cake made with KH Roberts flavours. He is flanked by Dr Peter Ong, CEO, and Mr Robert Ong, Chairman Emeritus.
Minister for Trade & Industry Chan Chun Sing (centre) cutting the 50th anniversary cake made with KH Roberts flavours. He is flanked by Dr Peter Ong, CEO, and Mr Robert Ong, Chairman Emeritus.

Related tags Flavour fragrance Singapore South east asia Export

Singaporean flavours and fragrance firm KH Roberts (KHR) has marked its 50th anniversary with the launch of a new $20m, 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility.

The facility encompasses administrative, global sales, R&D, manufacturing, warehouse and logistics functions in a single location.

Tan Pok Kiam, general manager, KHR, told FoodNavigator-Asia​ that with the new facility, the firm would further work on growing its flavour innovation technologies as well as expanding new flavour profiles.

“A lot of clients in Asia are also working with us on sugar reduction, using our flavour sweeteners to reduce or replace sugar usage in their formulation. This is something we work closely with our customers on and a lot of them have adopted our products or solutions,” ​he added.

He said KHR’s customers include manufacturers of biscuits, bread and beverages — especially in instant, pre-mix, 3-in-1 and RTD tea drinks.

Smart technology

The site employs smart technologies, automation and digitisation, as well as a state-of-the-art automated liquid distribution and dispensing (ALDD) system, which KHR says is the first-of its-kind in the industry, synergising both automation and scalability of production batch sizes.

“This system has enabled us to achieve efficiency in our manufacturing processes by reducing reliance on manual processes and extending production up time, while ensuring that we comply with increasingly stringent food safety requirements,” ​said Dr Peter Ong, CEO and executive director of KHR.

Also integrated in the new facility is a full-fledged flavours R&D centre, as well as a dedicated pilot plant space for small-scale product development and test production, enabling customers and collaborators to test new pre-commercial and technology-based products prior to commercial production. These capabilities help to enhance their speed to market.

“With the integration of R&D and pilot production, we will be able to continually innovate and broaden our portfolio by offering customers with best-in-class flavour solutions and a seamless customer experience,”​ said Dr Ong.

Tan said that KHR has tripled its capacity with this new facility.

Skills Framework for Food Manufacturing

The opening of KHR’s new facility was attended by Minister for Trade & Industry Chan Chun Sing, who launched the Skills Framework for Food Manufacturing, of which KHR is an industry partner.

The Skills Framework for Food Manufacturing is part of the republic’s Food Manufacturing Industry Transformation Map (ITM) and is jointly-developed by Skills Future Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG), and Enterprise Singapore, together with employers, industry associations, education and training providers and unions.

The Skills Framework provides key information on the food manufacturing sector and employment, career pathways, occupations/job roles, as well as existing and emerging skills and competencies required for the occupations/job roles. It also provides a list of training programmes for skills upgrading and mastery.

Some of the emerging skills and competencies identified include Advanced Processing Technology, Active and Smart Packaging, and Recipe Formulation.

Minister Chan encouraged Singaporean businesses to follow KHR in pursuing the “five important ingredients of success” ​— internationalisation, innovation, quality assurance, collaboration, and the upgrading of workers.

KHR’s Asian growth

According to Dr Ong, KHR’s first factory in Boon Lay was the first Singaporean flavour factory. The third-generation family business also has manufacturing facilities in Thailand and Indonesia, and direct sales distribution offices in Malaysia, China and various other markets across Asia.

Tan said KHR was looking to expand further in North Asia, as well as in Europe and the US where they already have clients. There are also possibilities of “inorganic growth” ​which are still being explored.

Minister Chan stated that KHR’s revenue has more than doubled in the past six years.

He added that this reflects the growth of Singapore’s manufacturing sector, which has steadily grown at a CAGR of 3% since 2010, to over S$10bn in 2016.

Last year, food manufacturing contributed S$4.3bn to Singapore’s GDP.

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