Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Emeritus Adviser, Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association
Mr David Tan, President, Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am honoured to be here today to celebrate the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association (SFMA)’s 55th anniversary.
Strong Growth of the Singapore Food Manufacturing Sector
2. The journey of SFMA from just 20 members in 1967 to a 400-member strong association is testament to the vision, dedication, and perseverance of our local food manufacturing community. Today, we have a vibrant food manufacturing sector with over 50,000 jobs, and contributing 1% of our GDP. It is growing quickly too: from 2015 to 2019, the sector saw a 4% annual growth rate, faster than many other sectors.
SFMA’s Role in Driving Industry Transformation
3. These achievements would not have been possible without the support of associations like SFMA. In the past two years when we fought against COVID-19, SFMA worked very closely with Enterprise Singapore on transformation efforts for the industry. It played a key role in leading other partner associations to promote demand for food products made in Singapore, and encouraged food manufacturers to digitalise, automate, and explore ways to diversify growth.
4. Today, SFMA remains a key champion of both innovation and internationalisation of our companies.
5. Just a few weeks ago, SFMA partnered the Food Innovation and Resource Centre at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), and Enterprise Singapore to organise the Meatless Meat Challenge – an event which brought together ten food manufacturers and 30 SP students to co-create new alternative protein products. Under the mentor companies’ guidance, the students came up with creative food concepts such as plant-based chili crab cakes, and meatless ngoh-hiang. Initiatives like this provide food manufacturers with the opportunity to tap creative young minds and explore innovative products that meet customers’ needs.
6. On the internationalisation front, SFMA remained relentless in their efforts despite the cancellation of key tradeshows during COVID-19. They worked with Enterprise Singapore to explore and lead virtual tradeshows in key markets such as Dubai, Germany and Paris. In fact, the industry today exports more than 60% of its output to more than 120 markets! Now that border restrictions have eased, I encourage our food manufacturers to double down on these export efforts. If anything, the great turnout at the recent Food and Hotel Asia held in Singapore, featuring more than 2,000 exhibitors from 56 countries and regions, and 130 local companies, is a positive sign of more opportunities to come. And I am confident SFMA will continue playing a key role to help our manufacturers access these opportunities.
7. SFMA has also been actively keeping up with key industry trends, so that its members can continue to build new capabilities, and remain relevant and competitive. As consumers seek out healthier food options and become more environmentally conscious, our food manufacturing firms have to explore opportunities in areas like plant-based food, and embrace sustainability across their supply chain, including in their choice of ingredients and in the manufacturing process. I am also happy to note that SFMA has taken the lead to collaborate with other trade associations and Government agencies to share emerging innovative solutions and best practices in areas such as food safety management, which is an area that has taken centre stage in recent years.
Signal the macro-economic environment and changes ahead
8. But even as we look to the future with optimism, we must prepare ourselves for more turbulence ahead. We are seeing a surge in inflation globally with tightened labour markets. This has translated into continued pressures in costs for raw materials, energy, logistics and labour. To help businesses navigate during these challenging times, the Government will deepen our collaboration with SFMA and its members to strengthen productivity improvement and innovation efforts, find new channels for our products, and create good job opportunities for Singaporeans. Enterprise Singapore will continue to partner SFMA and provide the necessary resources and networks so that SFMA can pursue new growth pathways.
Formation of Industrial Alliance
9. On that note, I am heartened by the formation of an Industrial Alliance between SFMA and seven other food-related trade associations. With the signing of the MoU later today, SFMA will join hands with their fellow associations to champion industry-wide initiatives with greater reach and impact, and foster cross-pollination of solutions to the challenges we face today.
10. Through this Alliance, SFMA and its partner associations will drive industry initiatives in three key areas:
a. First, supporting SMEs on their Sustainability Journey through workshops to raise awareness
b. Second, establishing an Industrial Skills Training Institute to prepare the workforce for emerging roles within the sector, and
c. Third, providing a co-operative platform for sharing of common resources such as warehouses, cold rooms, processing facilities and even joint logistics operations.
11. As SFMA and the newly formed Alliance work towards building a collaborative platform, we hope to see more food manufacturers leverage these programs to achieve greater heights – be it for resource sharing, overseas ventures or partnerships. I would like to encourage SFMA to continue to take the lead and help the industry achieve sustainable and resilient business growth.
12. Congratulations once again to SFMA for an incredible 55 years, and I look forward to working with you and you members, and celebrating your achievements in the next 55 years.
13. Thank you.