From waste to taste: Singapore food tech firm develops soy whey-based alcohol

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Singapore food tech firm develops soy whey-based alcohol ©Getty Images
Singapore food tech firm develops soy whey-based alcohol ©Getty Images

Related tags: Singapore, Alcohol, Food waste, Soy

Singapore food tech company, SinFooTech, is upcycling soy whey food waste into an alcoholic beverage, Sachi, using its zero waste patented fermentation technology.

Food waste accounts for approximately 10% of Singapore’s total waste, so the company hopes to turn waste from the food manufacturing industry into innovative food ingredients and products to reduce the environmental footprint.

Sachi contains 7% alcohol by volume, and has a fruity, floral, sake-like flavour profile, which is rich in antioxidants and gluten-free too.

Light drink

According to the company’s co-founder, Jonathan Ng, Sachi contains isoflavones, which is naturally present in soy products.

(Isoflavones are) akin to resveratrol in red wine and shown to prevent certain cancers and improve skin and bone conditions. Through our patented fermentation technology, the isoflavones also becomes a free form, which makes it easier for it to be absorbed by the body​,” Ng explained.

Ng wants the drink to target casual drinkers with its wellness element. Sachi has a shelf life of six to eight months.

Challenges

Ng said that the company’s biggest challenges were regulations and acquisition of licences.

In Singapore, the production of alcoholic beverages require licenses for R&D.

Unlike other food tech R&D, we need licenses for the production of alcohol. As alcohol production is heavily regulated, and as a new product and category without our own category, we are finding it hard to afford and obtain the licenses​,” he said.

He further explained that they were working with the Singapore Customs, SFA, MTI and ESG (Enterprise Singapore) to obtain the licenses required.

Enterprise Singapore set up the FoodInnovate initiative in 2018, to help companies like SinFooTech.

The initiative acts as a key platform to facilitate innovation by equipping SMEs with food science knowledge, partnerships for co-innovation, and access to physical infrastructure and technologies.

Bernice Tay, director of food manufacturing division at Enterprise Singapore said: “The aim is to create a robust ecosystem which includes physical assets, financial resources, talent, intellectual property and supportive regulations for innovations to thrive​.”

Tay mentioned that while there were no lack of R&D applications, the challenge for upcycled products lay in the uncertainty around investment and commercialisation because most of the products were new-to-market.

At present, Enterprise Singapore is currently working on five projects repurposing food waste.

Upscale progress

Meanwhile, SinFooTech is now looking to create new products from other sources of food waste.  

Ng said they expect to launch Sachi in 2020, in Singapore and South East Asia.

For other countries, we will license our technology for other producers in that locality​,” he said.

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