“Reimagining Food for the Future”
Mr Lim Ah Doo, Chairman and Non-Executive and Independent Director, Olam Group
Mr A. Shekhar (to be read as “Mr Shekhar"), Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, ofi
Mr Niall FitzGerald KBE DSA (to be read as “Mr Niall FitzGerald”), Chair of the Board of Directors, ofi
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. A very good afternoon to everyone. It is my pleasure to be here today to witness the inauguration of ofi’s new Asia Pacific Customer Solution Centre (‘CSC’). My warmest congratulations to Olam on this significant milestone.
2. As one of the world’s largest integrated agri-commodities companies, Olam has grown from strength to strength, diversifying your value chain across more than 60 countries. Your vision to offer sustainable, natural and high value-added food products reflects Olam’s dedication to capture new market opportunities and sustain a thriving agri-commodities value chain.
Trade 2030 and the Wholesale Trade Sector
3. This latest investment by ofi is a vote of confidence for Singapore as a valuable and important base for global traders to conduct and grow their business activities. The Government is firmly committed to strengthening Singapore’s position as a leading global trade hub.
a. Earlier this year, we unveiled the Trade 2030 strategy which aims to deepen our trading volume and widen Singapore’s trading activities and markets.
b. Integral to Trade 2030 is the wholesale trade sector. Today, the top 10 global traders from the energy, agri-commodities and metals sectors all have a presence in Singapore. We want to strengthen this ecosystem by nurturing a strong core of Singapore Global Traders with deep roots in Singapore and extending strong branches to the rest of the world.
4. Let me share three ‘Cs’ that companies in this sector can focus on to navigate the post-pandemic environment and scale future growth. They are: (a) Create, (b) Collaborate, and (c) Capability Development.
Create and innovate for the future
5. First, Create and innovate solutions for the future. The need to address supply chain vulnerability, ensure sustainable business practices, and respond to changing consumer preferences are vital steps for the agri-food sector to move ahead. As the world faces more frequent disruptions and fast-moving trends, companies would do well by constantly innovating and experimenting to discover more effective ways to capture value.
a. For instance, innovative solutions that integrate plant science and smart crop management technologies can be instrumental in optimising productivity and crop yield for farmers.
b. As more consumers opt for sustainably produced and nutritious food, more innovations to support crop growth, healthy food production and sustainable food packaging processes will be required.
6. ofi’s new CSC facility is an excellent example of value-added product innovation and development.
a. It is leading innovation and development of new products for each of ofi’s core ingredients – Cocoa, Coffee, Dairy, Nuts and Spices – across the Asia Pacific region,
b. ofi will undertake R&D to improve its wide range of products and develop new signature offerings.
c. To support this effort, I understand that the APAC CSC facility in Singapore will collaborate with the ofi global? network of 14 innovation centres to co-create new food and beverage solutions. The centre will also drive ofi’s global partnership and joint development work with other institutions worldwide.
Collaborate and partner - scale new heights
7. Second, for future growth, our companies will have to collaborate and develop partnerships to scale new heights. Singapore is home to a vibrant ecosystem of agri-food tech companies, research institutes, investors, and supply chain management and technology companies. We have also made great strides in creating a network of venture capital firms and accelerators that understand the business models of companies in the growing agri-food space.
a. Today, we have close to 150 agri-food startups in Singapore – almost a three-fold increase since 2018. There are many interesting startups here. For example, ProfilePrint, which has a digital food fingerprinting technology to ascertain the quality of food ingredients more easily. It is able to assess the quality of, for instance, coffee online, without having to go through the traditional and onerous process of physical grading. This Singapore startup’s solution has the potential to transform the global food ingredient supply chain, and it is backed by leading agri-commodities players including Olam.
b. Companies in Singapore have ample opportunities to develop partnerships to grow. The Singapore Agri-Food Innovation Lab (SAIL) launched by ESG and Nanyang Technological University last year, is part of the Government’s efforts to spur agri-food innovation through partnerships, SAIL seeds collaborations between large companies and smaller local players, and with research institutes and institutes of higher learning. It also allows players to benefit from shared R&D and agri-food innovation initiatives as they work together.
8. This spirit of collaboration is evident in ofi’s new facility which will partner with Singapore’s research institutions such as A*STAR Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation to explore new product development techniques. I am looking forward to exciting solutions that could come our way.
Capability development to nurture talent and skills
9. Last but not least, capability development to nurture essential and value-added skills in the workforce is imperative for continued growth. Singapore’s position as a leading trade hub can only be achieved with a well-skilled workforce and talents. We recognise that the wholesale trade sector will experience rapid transformation and growth in the coming years. The Government is committed to continue investing in the sector’s workforce.
a. In 2021, the Government launched the Jobs Transformation Map for the Wholesale Trade sector. This map provides a useful compass for employers and workers to prepare and seize new opportunities as new roles emerge and jobs in the sector are being redesigned. We encourage companies to tap on the Jobs Transformation Map – to anticipate theworkforce transformation trends and upskill your workers to stay ahead.
b. The Government’s Career Conversion Programme for Wholesale Trade Professionals is another channel to help companies reskill and transit mid-career workers to take on new or more value-added jobs in the areas of trade operations, facilitation, and compliance.
10. I am encouraged that Olam is a strong believer in investing and nurturing talent in the sector. Besides developing its existing workforce, Olam is investing efforts to grow a young talent pipeline through initiatives such as the ofi innovation challenge planned for next year, which will offer promising participants internship and job attachment opportunities.
11. Let me congratulate ofi once again on the launch of this new CSC facility. This is another milestone in your journey of reimagining the business of food and agriculture, and tells an inspiring story especially for other home-grown traders.
12. I wish you all the very best as you chart this path ahead.
13. Thank you.