The latest in food technology and trends were showcased at the second day of TechInnovation 2017 at Marina Bay Sands. The Food Innovation track is a first at the TechInnovation, a prominent technology-industry brokerage event now in its sixth year. Food Innovation is vital to growth for producers, who are facing challenges such as healthier eating habits, more consumer awareness over food’s origins and its impact on the environment.
Mr Ted Tan, Deputy Chief Executive of SPRING Singapore and Chairman of IPI Singapore, shared the emerging food trends and the Government-Industry efforts to foster a collaborative and innovative food eco-system in his opening speech.
“Technological advancements and evolving consumer preferences are re-shaping how food is produced, prepared and distributed. Innovation is key for businesses to stay productive and competitive amidst these changes,” said Mr Tan.
Key trends in the food industry
Jane Barnett, Head of Insights for ANZ, SE Asia and India, at Mintel, illustrated some important developments in the regional food industry. The global market intelligence agency revealed that consumers are seeking out trustworthiness in their food choices. “They are looking to familiar names and going back to traditional flavours that they remember from their childhoods,” said Barnett. Household food and beverage names can leverage such a trend to reach out to busy, well-travelled millennials and professionals, she noted.
Alchemy Foodtech co-founder and Master Builder Alan Phua hopes to make the world a less diabetic place through their flagship product. Diabetes is linked to the consumption of high glycemic index (GI) foods. And while brown rice is a healthier and lower GI alternative to white rice, many people find it difficult to switch over due to brown rice’s grainier texture and less appetising flavour. “90 percent of diabetics are Type 2, and they mainly get it from a poor diet and lack of exercise with food being the biggest controllable factor,” he said. “And when it comes to refined carbohydrates, it is comfort food. We eat it when we’re happy or sad,” said Phua.
Alchemy Foodtech has developed a natural plant fibre-based supplement that is clinically proven to lower the GI of refined carbohydrates such as white rice, bread and pasta, without compromising on its taste and texture. That way, consumers can still maintain their lifestyles and at the same time manage or prevent diabetes.
Rama Rajamanickam, DSM Nutritional Products Vice President of Science & Innovation, Asia Pacific, said they are working with food manufacturers to develop “functional foods” for consumers in the region. DSM is focusing on senior care, specially formulating for the ageing population.
“Some specific areas we are working on are minimising the risk of diabetes in the pre-diabetic populace, increasing bone strength, heart health and adult cognition,” he said. He highlighted the example of OatWell, DSM’s brand of oat beta glucan that helps reduce cholesterol, blood glucose while boosting gut health and improving weight management.
And when it comes to fresh produce such as poultry, fish and meats, FoodSniffer is a handheld mobile device that uses sensors to detect their freshness. CEO Augustus Alesiunas said he came up with the idea for the device after contracting food poisoning on his business trips.
“We wanted something that works fast, is affordable and is ready to use,” he said. The user simply points the device at the meat for a few seconds. The results are then sent to the user’s smartphone, where it can be viewed in just a few easy swipes.
Awarding funding and mentorship to the most deserving startups
The inaugural IP HatchDay was also launched at TechInnovation 2017. Organised by Piece Future, Asia’s first Intellectual Property (IP) bank, IP HatchDay is an open innovation competition searching for entrepreneurs that can build scalable and IP-driven business ideas. Participants of the competition have the opportunity to build on 1 out of 10 IP/technology portfolios offered by Piece Future’s partners – Panasonic, Temasek Polytechnic and IP Bridge. The winners of the competition will be rewarded with up to USD500,000 in funding, incubation and mentoring from Piece Future and its partners.