Recently, Singapore has garnered attention as a central food tech innovation hub in Asia despite the alternative protein movement still being in its infancy in the region.
Based on the Asia Alternative Protein Industry Report 2020 by Green Queen Media (GQM), the country is home to a few leading Asian startups which are rocking the broken global food system with their groundbreaking technology such as whole food optimisation as well as cellular agriculture.
Government support and funding have been a crucial impetus behind the emerging food-tech ecosystem, and it is also part of the focus of preparing for the unavoidable future climate-related challenges as well as food insecurity.
To prepare itself for the impact of the current climate crisis, Singapore has lately introduced a S$100 billion plan which covers investment projects in building infrastructure to combat rising sea levels and floodwater in the wake of increasing pressures to cut carbon emissions.
Combating food insecurity is also a vital component of the plan. Although food security is a global phenomenon affecting many countries due to unpredictable climate events, Singapore is especially vulnerable as it is 90 per cent dependent upon foreign food imports.
Another issue of concern is the unsustainable nature of current animal protein and production that Singapore has to address. This is unsustainability is contributing a lot to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation as well as worsening the health and nutrition crisis of the country.
There is a few steps Singapore is undertaking to address this issue. First, much investment has been poured into the research and development of alternative protein which will strengthen the country’s self-sufficiency in food production while also moving away from the resource intensive nature of traditional animal agriculture.
To achieve this, a full time Alternative Protein Analyst has been appointed by the authorities whose task is to construct the necessary regulatory framework as well as push the growth of the industry to allow for novel products in the market.
In addition to this, as entrepreneurs and startups continue to mushroom, the ecosystem will also follow suit with many big regional foodtech events being held in the country. The events include Rethink Event’s Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Week as well as ID Capital’s Future Food Asia. Singapore houses three of the six alt-protein friendly accelerators that are mentioned in the report, including Innovate 360, GROW, and Big Idea Ventures.
Furthermore, some of the most groundbreaking companies with leading sustainable food solutions have been able to start up in the city courtesy of the government’s incentives of matching the funding amount raised by Singaporean startups.
These include TurtleTree Labs’ world’s first lab-grown dairy and human breast milk, Shiok Meats’ cell-based shrimp that will help combat plastic pollution, species extinction and food traceability issues, Karana’s young jackfruit-based whole food meat alternative, as well as Life3 Biotech’s algae-based protein.
Also, to boost local food production to 30 per cent by 2030, the country is introducing a S$140 million self-sufficiency plan. Several homegrown biotechnology startups are already up and running with the help from government funding. Temasek Holdings, the government’s investment arm is also funding Sustenir’s production of foreign crops in lab-controlled vertical farms powered by artificial intelligence and LED lighting. Temasek was also an early shareholder in JUST Egg and Impossible Foods, which are US alt-protein corporations.
These new developments will likely pave the way for the much-needed alternative protein shift throughout Asia, Green Queen Media wrote.