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: Refreshed road map to drive food services industry

A refreshed road map will guide food businesses to new revenue streams while home-grown brands will get help to spread their wings and go international in the coming years.

Battered by the pandemic, the food services sector is being primed for its next stage of development through the Food Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025, which was announced by Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

The road map encourages industry players to take advantage of trends like sustainability. They will also get help in going international, and building a local talent pool for new job roles, even as the push towards digitalisation continues.

"As we emerge from the pandemic, it is critical for the food services sector to reposition itself to seize new opportunities, and adopt solutions to future-proof operations," said Mr Gan at the Restaurant Asia 2022 symposium and trade show yesterday.

He outlined four major strategies the road map will adopt.

First, digital and automation solutions will continue to be a driver for growth.

Companies will get guidance in using advanced technologies and will be offered tools for data protection and cyber security to safeguard their businesses.

Second, businesses are encouraged to innovate to address changing consumer preferences for convenience, health and wellness, and sustainability, and hence carve out new revenue streams.

Mr Gan cited companies that produced and commercialised ready-to-eat meals.

"These efforts paid off and helped them remain resilient to demand shocks, especially during the circuit breaker when dining in was restricted," he said.

With sustainability emerging as a rising global trend, firms will get support in incorporating sustainable solutions, such as in food waste management, into their operations.

Third, as borders reopen, home-grown firms will be helped to expand globally.

A curated programme will be rolled out in the third quarter of this year to support companies in the sector making forays into new markets. Enterprise SG will seek to connect companies with potential partners.

Lastly, with manpower issues a pertinent concern, the ITM will map out strategies to lift wages, reduce reliance on foreign workers and create more quality jobs for locals.

Mr Gan acknowledged the increasing competition for manpower across all sectors.

He said: "It is therefore important for companies, as part of business transformation, to also invest in human capital and create quality jobs for locals.

"This will ensure that there is a pipeline of talent to support the sector's growth."

Industry players like Mr Andrew Kwan, president of the Restaurant Association of Singapore, welcomed the roll-out of the ITM.

He noted that the pandemic jump-started the industry's adoption of some of the strategies, such as food and beverage operators turning to contactless ordering.

"It is timely to refresh the Food Services ITM... so that Singapore can continue to develop a lively and innovative food services industry," he said.

As part of its expansion plans, home-grown soya-based products company Mr Bean is adopting ITM strategies as it prepares for a new manufacturing facility to be built in the Senoko area by 2025.

Chief operating officer Thomas Koh said: "With this bigger factory we can put in more automation and serve even more sectors... Currently we're very focused on retail, but we hope to expand to things like business-to-business offerings and serve restaurants, cafes, schools and army camps."

He added: "But we need improved processes to bring productivity up."

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.