On 15 November, Singapore’s government-owned GIC, Temasek announced the launch of the Asia Sustainable Foods Platform to focus on addressing the challenges faced by both local and regional start-ups/businesses in scaling up the production of alternative proteins, as well as accelerating the growth of sustainable foods in Asia.

The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform aims to provide support and solutions, as an enabler, operator and investor, to food-tech companies as they go through their life cycle from product development to commercial scale-up.

  • As an enabler, it will provide R&D advisory and pilot-scale manufacturing facilities to support food-tech businesses accelerate their product commercialisation;
  • As an operator, it will provide manufacturing capabilities, along with market insights into commercialisation opportunities to support scaling up across Asia; and
  • As an investor, it will also provide businesses with a network of strategic connections and allocate capital to promising food-tech start-ups.

Yeoh Keat Chuan, Deputy Head, Enterprise Development Group at Temasek said, “Asia is expected to require around US$1.55 trillion of investment over the next decade to satisfy growing consumer demands for healthier and more sustainable food options. We need to evolve our current capabilities to bolster food security and strengthen supply chains.” Temasek will continue to invest in the global farm-to-fork value chain over and above the US$8 billion which it has invested so far.

The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform will be managed by a core team of food-tech professionals, led by newly appointed CEO, Mathys Boeren, whom had decades of work experience at Unilever, Givaudan, Symrise and Kerry. Boeren highlighted that it is the goal of the platform to offer consumers across Asia with tasty, fresh, traceable and sustainable food.

Meanwhile, The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform and A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Food & Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) have also committed to invest over S$30 million (US$22.1 million) in the Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC) over the next 3 years, to provide tailored infrastructure and services to promising food-tech start-ups.

FTIC will be a one-stop shop where aspiring food-tech start-ups will have access to a food grade pilot scale facility with extrusion and fermentation equipment, shared labs, test kitchens, co-working spaces, as well as A*STAR’s deep R&D know-how. Dr Hazel Khoo, Executive Director of SIFBI highlighted that “FTIC will provide much-needed pilot scale capabilities for Alternative Protein (AP) companies to shorten time to market.”

FTIC will also address pain points food-tech businesses face in bringing their innovations to market, such as long wait-times for pilot-scale facilities and equipment; the lack of deep product & process development capabilities; and the difficulty in navigating regulatory processes and understanding unfamiliar markets in other parts of Asia.

FTIC is also pleased to announce that its first partner, Next Gen Foods, known for its plant-based TiNDLE chicken products, will be setting up its global R&D and innovation centre within FTIC.

The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform is exploring 2 joint ventures with global industry experts in plant-based and microbial proteins.

A partnership with CREMER, a German agri-food multinational with expertise in plant-based protein, through a joint venture company, will augment the Platform’s manufacturing capabilities for plant-based protein products. Key to this process is high moisture extrusion (HME), a new technology for producing texturised proteins that more closely resemble meat than other plant- based manufacturing techniques. The Platform’s investment in, and the operation of, the joint venture company are subject to obtaining all required regulatory approvals and consents.

Given the nascent technology, CREMER’s expertise in contract manufacturing and operating other HME plants globally will provide essential support for businesses in this area where few companies have mature HME capabilities and capacity, particularly in Asia.

The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform has also signed an agreement with ADM, a global leader in nutrition, that will pave the way to form a joint venture that enables contract development and manufacturing services for microbial proteins produced via precision fermentation. ADM’s global capabilities, and innovative fermentation-based expertise, will help enable smaller existing food- tech companies to efficiently scale their fermentation innovations through to the pilot scale. This project is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).

Joe Taets, President of ADM APAC business said, “We’ve talked to innovators, from startups to mature food providers, in Singapore and across APAC, and they have told us that they are eager and waiting for a partner that can provide support for food-grade precision fermentation technology. This first-of-its-kind joint venture in Singapore would meet that demand, and in doing so, will help further the development of the alternative protein industry in APAC.”

 
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