Slashing sugar in Singapore: Local firms PS Food & Beverage and Momolato sign-up for reformulation drive

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

All eyes on sugar in Singapore’s latest attempt to accelerate sugar reformulation and innovation ©Getty Images
All eyes on sugar in Singapore’s latest attempt to accelerate sugar reformulation and innovation ©Getty Images

Related tags Singapore Sugar Sugar substitute

The Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association (SFMA) has launched a new Sugar Smart Challenge 2020, a year-long project which aims to develop and commercialised reduced sugar or sugar substitute ingredients as well as finished products.

The Sugar Smart Challenge (SSC) is part of Singapore’s goal to stamp out diabetes in the country through reducing sugar consumption.

SFMA’s project lead Cindy Ang said there were eight teams taking part in the project, which runs until July 2021.

Teams can consist of one food manufacturer, and up to two partners who can be ingredient producers and start-ups.

Ready to drink beverage company, PS Food & Beverage, and gelato firm, Momolato are two such companies participating.

Teri Teo, director at PS Food & Beverage said: “Our motivation in joining SSC 2020 stems from the nation’s move to cut sugar intake in a large scale so as to curb the sharp rise of health issues like diabetes and heart issues​.”

The company manufactures fruit tea and jellies. Teo told us that the firm was committed to producing ready to drink beverages using natural ingredients sourced sustainably. Recently, it launched a new product under the Freshjoy brand, which is a fruit vinegar drink.

With SSC 2020, we will work with our partners to produce healthier and tasty beverages to substitute sugary drinks in the market and our target consumers are the young and the old​.”

Meanwhile, Momolato’s founder Sharon Tay hopes to tap on this project to make healthy yet great-tasting gelato and popsicles. “The Sugar Smart Challenge is an amazing avenue for us to leverage on our years of gelato craftsmanship to curate no-added sugar flavours​.”

According to SFMA, the participating companies spread across various categories from desserts, snacks, cookies, gelato, sauces and beverages. SFMA said this was a good profile as these categories were all heavy users of sugar. 

Teams will then undergo a 12-month innovation process consisting design thinking, market research, prototyping, product development, marketing, and finally commercialisation through a local retail partner if selected.

Reduce or replace sugar

The goal is to develop sugar-reduced or sugar-substituted products which are ready to hit the shelves.

FoodNavigator-Asia​ previously reported that sugar reduction was the top concern for both consumers and manufacturers in Singapore.

Ang said the greatest challenge in sugar reduction was ensuring that the “taste and texture profile of the existing food products do not get affected with the sugar reduction or elimination. Hence our challenge is to help more companies developed tastier and healthier products​.”

Ang added: “At the end of this year long project, we hope companies can come up with commercialisable prototype/s. They can decide on any number of products but must come up with at least one product to graduate from this project​.” 

Selected products will then retail in a supermarket chain in Singapore to test consumer interest and demand.

The Sugar Smart Challenge is done in collaboration with the Singapore’s Health Promotion Board, with support from Enterprise Singapore and Innovate 360.

This is the first such project by SFMA focusing on sugar reduction, it had previously organised the Food Innovation Product Award thrice which spanned across various reformulation aspects from calories, carbohydrates, sugar, salt and fats.

Singapore has one of the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world with about 440,000 diabetics in in 2014 and expected to reach one million by 2050.

In 2016, Singapore declared a ‘war on diabetes’ consisting lifestyles initiatives, screening programmes and advertising bans. Earlier this year, it announced a new labelling system​ (Nutri Grade) for sugar-sweetened beverages to encourage healthier food choices among consumers.

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