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Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the Opening of Buhler-Givaudan APAC Protein Innovation Center

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the Opening of Buhler-Givaudan APAC Protein Innovation Center

Mr Fabrice Filliez, Ambassador, Embassy of Switzerland

Ms Monila Kothari, President APAC, Givaudan

Dr Ian Roberts, CTO, Buhler

Mr Michael Carlos, Board Member, Givaudan

Mr Adrien Beauvisage, Head of SEA, Buhler


Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I would like to thank both Buhler and Givaudan for inviting me to grace the opening of your joint APAC Protein Innovation Centre in Singapore.

2. Singapore has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with both Buhler and Givaudan. We have a long history together.

a. Buhler chose to site their Southeast Asia & Pacific HQ in Singapore in 1977. The HQ oversees regional engineering design, consultancy, regional distribution and after sales services.

b. Two years ago, Deputy Prime Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat visited Buhler’s HQ and innovation campus in Switzerland, where he learnt about Buhler’s approach to innovation and also asked what Singapore could do to further plans for Buhler’s expansion here in Singapore.

c. Givaudan is also a leading investor in Singapore, with business units in Taste and Wellbeing, and Fragrance and Beauty. In fact, Singapore hosts Givaudan’s regional functions, Taste and Wellbeing Innovation Centre, Flavourist School, as well as a manufacturing facility.

Potential of Alternative Protein

3. The opening of the joint APAC Protein Innovation Centre in Singapore adds an exciting new taste to our increasingly flavourful agri-food tech ecosystem. The Centre will focus on enabling the innovation of alternative proteins - which is one of the few promising solutions to deal with the global challenge of producing globally sustainable food.

4. By 2050, the global population is expected to grow from 8 billion today, to 10 billion. This will increase the demand for food, particularly safe and high quality food. The demand for protein is expected to increase disproportionately due to rising incomes and urbanization. This will in turn lead to in shifts from carbohydrate-heavy to protein-heavy diets as consumers look for tastier and more nutritious food options.

5. On the supply side, however, there are more uncertainties in food production as climate change will also affect the availability of arable land and farm yield. Consumers are also increasingly mindful of how meat and livestock production and processing contributes to carbon emissions.

a. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that global livestock contribute to about 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions annually.

b. Furthermore, animal protein by itself is a highly inefficient source of sustenance. There is a 1971 book by Frances Moore Lappé’s – “Diet for a Small Planet”. 50 years later, it is still very relevant. She wrote it when she was 26. I read it when I was back in University. She talked about the reverse protein process. She showed that more than 21 pounds of protein fed to a cow made just 1 pound of protein for people.

6. To address this dilemma, we need to find more innovative ways to produce quality food sustainably. Producing alternative protein could be a viable solution. As health and environmentally conscious consumers demand sustainable and healthier diets, there are opportunities to make alternative proteins more appealing and tastier.

Welcomed Boost to Alternative Protein Industry

7. This partnership between two global leaders - Buhler and Givadan, is therefore a welcome boost to the alternative protein industry. Buhler’s deep technical capabilities in extrusion R&D, which is critical to enable plant-based protein innovation, complement Givaudan’s expertise in taste and flavours. This is like a “power couple” in the agri-food sector. Basically, like the cheese and wine in Swiss fondue.

8. The Centre is the coquelan, the pot, that provides a unique one-stop platform to combine and test key technologies in taste and flavours. It will create a range of new taste, authentic texture and profiles for meat alternatives. It will welcome food processing companies, startups and university researchers looking to develop novel plant-based food products. We hope and expect global customers to come to Singapore to use this facility, to expand their reach to Asia, or to improve their existing products, particularly to suit the growing and expanding Asian palate.

9. As Asia’s first pilot plant dedicated to alternative meats, the Centre will also help start-ups work with larger global customers. In Singapore, many homegrown startups and food manufacturing businesses have steered their attention towards alternative proteins in recent years.

a. For example, NextGen Foods recently launched their plant-based chicken alternative, Tindle, which also uses extrusion tech.

Capturing Growth Opportunities

10. As a land scarce nation, Singapore is in a unique position to look towards technology and meat alternatives to bolster our food security. This is one of our key pillars for the Singapore Green Plan 2030. The alternative protein sector thus holds great potential for growth in Singapore. This is how we’re making sure the temperature is well suited for the fondue.

11. Singapore is working closely with like-minded companies to strengthen tech and innovation in the agri-food tech sector, to capture the growth opportunities in the Asian market for plant-based products.

a. Today, we have an established base of Flavour & Fragrance houses, specialty chemical companies with human nutrition business units, and food tech providers. These companies provide a foundation to support the growth of the alternative protein sector. Buhler and Givaudan are good examples of this base.

12. We are also establishing various platforms to foster public-private partnerships to accelerate alternative protein product innovation.

a. For example, the Food Innovation Resource Centre by Singapore Polytechnic and Enterprise Singapore provides food enterprises with technical expertise in new product and process development, including packaging, shelf life evaluation, market testing and automation.

b. JTC’s Senoko Food Hub is a seven storey, ramped-up development with a full suite of logistics services, and a shared facility offering food processing equipment such as spray dryers and extruders.

c. The Food Tech Innovation Centre by Temasek and A*STAR aims to accelerate the commercialisation of food technologies.

13. Fueled by these partnerships, we want to support our companies to capture opportunities in the agri-food tech industry, while strengthening Singapore’s food resilience. Singapore is proud to be South East Asia’s leading food and nutrition hub and our goal is for Singapore to become a global hub for agri-food tech, be it in alternative proteins, urban agriculture, or aquaculture.


14. Alternative proteins are no means a recent discovery. In fact, tofu has long been used as meat substitute in China – records from the Song dynasty actually described tofu as “mini mutton”. Nevertheless, through continuous innovation and improvement in flavor, texture and taste, led by companies like Buhler and Givaudan, the appeal of alternative protein has, and will continue to, improve with time.

15. Perhaps in the future, alternative protein will no longer be the exception but the norm, and people will be more used to it. I’m confident that the Centre will unlock the full potential of the alternative proteins sector. And that today’s opening gives us all a sense, taste and flavor of what is to come.

16. Congratulations once again on the opening.

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