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SIT Launches Production Facility and Food Tech Course to Support Burgeoning Agri-Food Sector in Singapore

To promote innovation in Singapore’s fast-growing food tech sector, SIT is set to launch a brand-new small-batch food production facility and a specialised course to provide professionals with in-demand skills as plant-based options gain popularity.

The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) has announced new measures that will support professionals and companies looking to level up and create a bigger impact in the Food Technology sector here. From a new small-batch food production facility that will enable local food players to trial new products on a smaller and more cost-effective scale, to the introduction of a new Continuing Education Training (CET) course in High Moisture Extrusion Technology (HMET), these initiatives will help equip the local workforce and companies with added capabilities to leverage the global momentum in sustainable food production and develop new innovative food products to meet evolving consumer demand.

Designed to help food companies reduce capital and operating costs through shared facilities and services, the new FoodPlant will fill a gap in the market for small batch production and is now open for pioneer membership. Run by SIT in partnership with Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and JTC, the facility is targeted to be launched in early 2022 at JTC Food Hub @ Senoko, providing a space for a range of food companies, from startups, SMEs to MNCs to test the viability of their new products via small batch production. Given how food manufacturers often face challenges such as a lack of quality facilities, expensive equipment, large opportunity costs, and high minimum order requirements from outsourced manufacturers, the new facility will provide a much-needed boost to food manufacturers looking to develop and scale the rollout of new products, post R&D.

Ahead of its opening next year, players in the Food Technology space can now start taking advantage of FoodPlant’s facilities and consultancy services, through pioneer memberships that offer significantly reduced annual membership fees. As founding FoodPlant members, companies will also enjoy priority bookings of the facility and additional discounts on top of early registrations. FoodPlant, which is part of the ESG-led multi-agency FoodInnovate1, is open for its first-year membership. For more information on its membership plans, visit www.foodplant.com.sg.

Bernice Tay, Director of Food Manufacturing, Enterprise Singapore said, “We are pleased to work with SIT and JTC to jointly set up FoodPlant as part of the FoodInnovate’s network of shared infrastructure. The changing environment and consumer preferences make it even more critical now to have differentiated products that address market needs. The new facility can help food manufacturing companies kickstart their innovation efforts while mitigating some of the cost and equipment challenges they may face, especially in the current climate. We encourage companies to tap the facility’s services to test-bed new technologies such as high-moisture extrusion technology and accelerate their new product commercialisation.”

Eugene Lim, Director of Food and Lifestyle Cluster, JTC said, “FoodPlant is a strategic addition to JTC Food Hub @ Senoko. As the first shared facility for small batch production, FoodPlant will plug into the large ecosystem of food companies and food start-ups in Singapore, and help them to accelerate the development, adoption and commercialisation of new food technologies. We will connect food companies in our estates island-wide to tap on this new facility.”

Additionally, SIT launched a new hands-on Food Technology CET course, ‘High Moisture Extrusion Technology (HMET) for Meat Analogues’ on 24-25 June. Through the course, food technology professionals are trained on high moisture extrusion technology (HMET) – a process that texturises plant-based protein into viable meat alternatives – which has also become increasingly popular due to the global meat-free movement gaining pace. HMET is key to kickstarting the production of meat analogue products from plant protein sources, such as wheat gluten, soy and pea proteins. An extruder machine similar to the one used for this CET training course will be available at the FoodPlant, as part of the facility’s wide range of affordable pilot-scale equipment.

Led by Associate Professor Lim Bee Gim, Chemical Engineering and Food Technology cluster, SIT, and CEO, FoodPlant, participants will learn how to yield product textures that resemble muscle meat via extrusion technology upon completion of this training course. These products can then be further processed to produce plant-based meat alternatives or ready-to-eat products that involve other conventional meat processing operations such as slicing, mincing or marinating.

“With the increased availability and consumption of novel plant-based foods gaining ground in recent years, this first-of-its-kind course offered by SIT and the opening of our new FoodPlant will no doubt benefit local companies keen to learn more about this unique food production process and include it as part of their manufacturing repertoire. Aligned with Singapore’s renewed focus on seizing growth opportunities in sustainability, as outlined in the recently-released Emerging Stronger Taskforce2 report, we hope that our suite of new offerings will provide a boost for the Food Technology sector in Singapore, alongside our ongoing industry partnerships and existing academic programmes,” shared A/P Lim. [APBN]

Source: Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)