Temasek is launching the Asia Sustainable Foods Platform to focus on addressing the challenges of 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 solutions and support, 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 commercialization. As an operator, it will provide manufacturing capabilities, along with market insights into commercialization opportunities to support scaling up across Asia.
As an investor, it will also provide businesses with a network of strategic connections and allocate capital to promising food-tech start-ups.
“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,” said Yeoh Keat Chuan, Deputy Head, Enterprise Development Group at Temasek.
“Temasek has invested over US $8 billion in the global farm-to-fork value chain since 2013, and will continue to increase our investments in this space. Singapore has a significant role to play in the transformation of the agri-food sector. The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform aims to support local and regional businesses, innovate, scale up, and commercialize,” he added.
The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform will be managed by a team of food-tech professionals, led by newly appointed CEO, Mathys Boeren. Prior to joining the Platform, Mr. Boeren worked in the food and food-ingredients industry for more than 25 years, amongst others for Unilever, Givaudan, Symrise, and Kerry. More recently, he has advised start-ups in the sustainable food space on the alignment of product attributes and consumer preferences.
Mr. Boeren highlighted that “Our key differentiating factor is our end-to-end enabler, operator, and investor capabilities that provide bespoke solutions and support to aspiring food-tech companies at every stage of their growth cycle. With our support to remove friction-to-adoption, companies can speed up their product development and pilot launch, as well as accelerate their commercial scale-up and go-to-market. In the end, it is our goal to delight consumers across Asia with tasty, fresh, traceable, and sustainable food.”
Accelerating product and process development
The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform and A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Food & Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) have committed to invest over S$30 million in the Food Tech Innovation Centre (FTIC) over the next three years, to provide tailored infrastructure and service offerings 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.
“SIFBI is excited to partner with Temasek’s newly established Asia Sustainable Foods Platform on the FTIC, which will provide much-needed pilot scale capabilities for Alternative Protein (AP) companies to shorten time to market. We expect that this partnership will help anchor AP companies, and to contribute significantly to the flourishing and vibrant food-tech landscape here in Singapore,” said Dr. Hazel Khoo, Executive Director, SIFBI.
This will 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's first partner, Next Gen Foods, will be setting up their global R&D and innovation centre within FTIC. Next Gen Foods is a food start-up that is creating a portfolio of nutritious and sustainable plant-based foods – beginning with its popular chicken made from plants, TiNDLE, now available in over 150 restaurants across seven markets in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
“At the core of Next Gen Foods is a dedication to creating plant-based foods that are not only sustainable, but also delicious, nutritious, and scalable,” says Timo Recker, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Next Gen Foods. “We can only do this through a commitment to continuous product innovation and growth.”
Robust co-manufacturing capacity
The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform is exploring two 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 texturized 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 support for businesses in this area where few companies have mature HME capabilities and capacity, particularly in Asia.
“Recognizing the growing importance of sustainability, health, and plant-based foods in supporting the global food ecosystem, CREMER wants to play a major role in driving these trends by contributing production knowledge we have gained over decades. By bringing HME capabilities to Asia, CREMER aims to provide production support to the fast-growing plant-based community here,” said Damian Krueger, General Manager of Sustainable Nutrition at CREMER.
The Asia Sustainable Foods Platform has also signed an agreement with ADM, 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 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).
“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,” said Joe Taets, president of ADM’s APAC business. “This joint venture in Singapore would meet that demand, and in doing so, will help further the development of the alternative protein industry in APAC.”
“EDB is pleased to be supporting ADM and Temasek’s Asia Sustainable Foods Platform efforts in building up precision fermentation expertise in Singapore. The joint venture addresses the needs of innovators in developing and scaling fermentation-based solutions, allowing them to serve global customers from Singapore. This will also strengthen our agri-food ecosystem through ensuring that the suitable infrastructure and technological capabilities are in place to spur innovation of agri-food technologies,” said Damian Chan, Executive Vice President, Singapore Economic Development Board.
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