The Future Of Food - Growing Urban Food Ecosystem
Food systems account for 70% of the water extracted from nature, 60% of biodiversity loss, and a third of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Singapore plays a crucial role in mitigating and reducing these detrimental effects to our environment.
In recent years, we see a growth in consumers becoming increasingly health conscious, with a shift in preference towards sustainable food sources, plant-based diets, alternative meats, veganism, to list a few. One of the reasons for the shift away from consuming meats is two pronged – the consumer awareness of the need to eat healthier, and the growing sentiment on reducing our carbon footprint from traditional meat agriculture.
"As consumers become increasingly health conscious, they are demonstrating more of an interest in food quality, safety and sustainability. They are seeking more information on where their food is sourced and how it is grown."
Shifting Consumer Preferences & Indicative Trends
A number of consumer trends will impact how food is grown and consumed in the future. Two are especially worth noting. First, as consumers become increasingly health conscious, they are demonstrating more of an interest in food quality, safety and sustainability. They are seeking more information on where their food is sourced and how it is grown, for example, along with any related nutritional values. This is evidenced in part by a rising interest in organic, locally grown and fair-trade produce.
Enter: Singapore Government’s Green Plan 2030
The Singapore Government’s Green Plan 2030 is an initiative to advance the country’s sustainable development agenda. The five core pillars of Green Plan 2030 are:
- City In Nature
- Energy Reset
- Sustainable Living
- Green Economy
- Resilient Future
"From creating an ecosystem of innovation to putting in place infrastructure for ambitious entrepreneurs, Singapore has taken an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to expanding its urban food systems."
Singapore’s Agri Foodtech Ecosystem
Singapore is at the forefront of developing technologies for scalable solutions that “move the needle” within urban food systems. These technologies have the capacity to revolutionise the way food is grown, distributed and consumed. They would entail a more participatory model of crop growing, with individual cities opening opportunities for residents to get involved. Urban farming would enable cities to become more independent and resilient in providing a buffer for supply stocks.
Singapore has positioned itself as a global agrifood hub for business by evolving its regulations from being protective and efficient to becoming proficient and enabling. Notably, the Singapore Food Agency approved the sale of cultured chicken meat produced by US-based scale-up Eat Just. The cell-based chicken meat has been cleared for use in Singapore as an ingredient in the production of snack foods. The regulatory clearance process involved the completion of more than 20 production runs in 1,200-litre bioreactors, to demonstrate that Eat Just had a consistent manufacturing process for its cell-based chicken meat. The company was able to illustrate that its product met existing poultry industry standards, with extremely low and significantly cleaner microbiological content than conventional, animalderived meat. The approval of cellular meat production exemplifies Singapore’s pragmatic and forward-thinking regulatory framework.
Furthermore, the formation of the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) at Nanyang Technical University on April 27, 2021 will enable a neutral platform to foster collaboration between regulators, public research performers and industry on the food ecosystem. The overarching goal is to enable the regulatory processes through the early exposure of novel foods and production methodologies, thereby accelerating time to market.
"The city-state presents an ideal environment for scale-ups, venture firms and corporations to launch an innovative and disruptive food product."
Funding Singapore’s Agri Foodtech Economy
Singapore has the highest level of capital funding in Southeast Asia, and its burgeoning urban food economy is no exception. The city-state’s sovereign fund, Temasek, has invested close to US$3 billion into the urban food economy, backing corporates and scale-ups in areas such as biotech, alternative proteins and vertical farming.
To support the agri foodtech industry, the Singapore government has also launched a US$45 million fund to boost the urban food economy. The Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund will be used to support the transformation of the high-tech farming sector to make it highly productive, climate-resilient and resource-efficient. The new fund comprises three co-funding components for local food-producing companies to build and expand their production capacities and capabilities
Additionally, SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, had earlier announced plans to invest US$65 million to develop Singapore-based agri foodtech scaleups. Some appointed partners include AgFunder, Hatch, ID Capital and The Yield Lab, which will meld strengths and expertise in commercialisation, networks and local market knowledge to enable industry growth.
Source: Deloitte & Economic Development Board Singapore