Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the Opening Ceremony of Restaurant Asia 2021

Speech by Minister Gan Kim Yong at the Opening Ceremony of Restaurant Asia 2021

Mr Andrew Kwan, President of the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), 
Mr Edward Liu, Managing Director of the Conference & Exhibition Management Services (CEMS), 
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good morning. 

2. Thank you for inviting me to the Restaurant Asia 2021. 

3. This is the second edition of Restaurant Asia, following the inaugural event in 2019. The previous edition proved to be a valuable platform for F&B businesses to come together to exchange insights and showcase new innovations. I am sure this year’s event will be as fruitful. 


4. The last two years have not been easy for the F&B sector. Businesses have had to operate with various Safe Management Measures (SMMs) in place, including restrictions on dining group sizes, Vaccination-Differentiated SMMs, and testing requirements. I am grateful that the F&B sector has been extremely cooperative in our fight against COVID-19 by ensuring a safe dining environment for Singaporeans. 

5. The Government will continue to stand alongside the F&B sector during this difficult time. We introduced various support measures, including enhanced levels of support under the Jobs Support Scheme, and rental waivers under the Rental Support Scheme, during periods of tightened SMMs. 

6. We continue to calibrate the measures as we journey towards COVID resilience, while protecting the vulnerable members of the community. Last week, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced some easing of SMMs, including allowing up to five members from the same household to dine together at F&B establishments. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust the measures as we move along.

7. Though the path ahead may be bumpy, I am confident that if we work together, we can emerge stronger from COVID-19. Today, I will share three points on how F&B businesses can prepare themselves for the new normal.  

Emerging Stronger 

8. First, transformation through digitalisation and innovation has never been more urgent. The pandemic accelerated the shift of many F&B companies to online food delivery and digital marketing to reach more customers and sustain their businesses. Looking ahead, companies will need to further develop their online-to-offline strategies and capabilities to effectively engage customers both online and offline.   

9. To support businesses in this effort, we have recently expanded the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) to include digital marketing solutions. Businesses can now tap on the PSG to build their digital capabilities, such as developing a digital marketing strategy or creating digital assets.

10. Companies will also need to be innovative and continuously look for opportunities to diversify their revenue streams and capture new demand in response to shifts in consumer behaviour. For example, with many people working from home these days, companies can explore developing new ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook products.  We will support companies to strengthen their capabilities in product development and innovation through the following ways: 

a. FoodInnovate, a multi-agency platform led by Enterprise Singapore (ESG), which supports companies in creating and commercialising food products by providing access to shared production facilities and networks with partners and accelerators.

b. The Innovation Advisors Programme, an initiative of Enterprise Singapore, run by IPI Singapore. The programme enables businesses to work with industry veterans who can advise on the development of innovation strategies, new products and solutions, and connect businesses to the right partners.

11. Second, as F&B businesses transform their business models, it is also important to invest in human capital and redesign jobs to make them more attractive. I am glad that many companies have already embarked on job redesign.

a. To date, more than 1,200 workers from over 30 companies have participated in Workforce Singapore’s Career Conversion Programme (CCP) for Food Services Assistants. An example is Select Group, which tapped on this initiative to train their staff to assist customers with using digital ordering software. 

b. Companies seeking to build their talent pipeline can also tap on CCPs for Food Services Executives or Restaurant Manager roles.  

12. Third, close collaboration between industry players, Government agencies, and other organisations will be vital for the transformation of the F&B sector. In this regard, the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) has been a key partner in driving industry development and building enterprise capabilities.  

13. Today, I am happy to announce that RAS and ESG are launching a revamped “Turning Passion into Profits” guidebook for the F&B entrepreneurs. The F&B sector is a challenging one. Each year, we see 1 in 5 F&B outlets being replaced. 1 in 2 F&B businesses do not make it past the four-year mark, even as more entrants enter the sector. It is thus imperative for new entrepreneurs to plan carefully before starting on your F&B journey. The latest guidebook sets out useful information for F&B businesses, including key elements for long term success, tips on menu engineering and financial management, and advice from seasoned F&B operators. You may download a copy from the RAS and ESG website. 


14. In closing, I would like to thank RAS and the CEMS for organising Restaurant Asia 2021. I encourage all of you to make the most of the next two days by participating actively in the discussions. 

15. I wish all of you a successful and fruitful event. Thank you.

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