Mr Andrew Kwan, President of Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS),
Mr Edward Liu, Managing Director of Conference & Exhibition Management Services,
Mr Francesco Santa, International Business Development Director of Italian Exhibition Group (IEG)
Ms IIaria Cicero, CEO of IEG Asia Private Limited
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to be at the opening of the fourth edition of Restaurant Asia. This has grown to become a signature go-to event for Food Services companies to network, exchange insights and learn about the latest trends and innovations.
2. Food has become a national pastime for Singaporeans and we have an ongoing love affair with all things delicious. The diversity of culinary choices here makes Singapore a vibrant F&B destination and leading lifestyle hub. In 2022, the Food Services industry contributed S$4.5 billion to our economy and employed about 235,000 workers.
3. At the 2022 edition of Restaurant Asia, we announced the launch of the Food Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025. Through the ITM, we aimed to foster an innovative and resilient food services sector anchored on a bedrock of homegrown regional brands. In line with the ITM, the Food Services Industry Digital Plan was also launched in November last year to map out digital solutions that companies can adopt to be more data-driven and efficient in their operations.
Key trends in food services
4. Allow me to share three key trends that are redefining the Food Services industry and will continue to do so in the years to come:
o The first trend is a growing demand for convenience, personalised and experiential services, and sustainable practices. This trend provides opportunities for businesses that position themselves to take advantage of these shifts in consumer demand.
o The second trend is greater and faster use of technology - COVID-19 has sped up the rate of technology adoption in the industry. Companies have widely adopted new digital solutions and automation equipment, especially in central kitchens.
o The third trend we see in the sector is an ageing local workforce and changing career aspirations of our youth, leading to greater competition for workers. This means that to stay competitive, companies need to redesign their jobs, encourage greater technology adoption, and explore options such as part-time workers.
5. Given the key trends that will drive the industry, please allow me to elaborate how we – the Government and Ministries – will continue working closely with the trade associations to navigate these new trends for a dynamic and vibrant food services industry.
Redesigning jobs amidst accelerated technology adoption and shifts in consumer demand
6. First, as global and local consumer trends and tastes evolve and companies speed up their adoption of technology, jobs have to be redesigned to keep pace with these changes.
o For companies, continuing to optimise their manpower model is important so as to stay agile and competitive. Jobs have to be purposefully redesigned in keeping with the level of technology adoption. Calibrating this carefully will help to maintain, as well as attract talent. Job redesign not only helps to raise productivity but also motivates employees to reskill and get equipped to contribute greater value to their employers. It is a win-win-win for everyone – the employees, employers, and consumers.
o For workers, it is more critical now than ever to adapt to the speed of changes, and keep on improving their skills and knowledge. Workers who take charge of their own career and professional development by constantly acquiring new skills are the ones who will stay relevant and highly employable.
7. To enable the progress and growth of our food industry, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Jobs Transformation Map (JTM) for the Food Services sector today. Jointly developed by Enterprise Singapore, Workforce Singapore (WSG), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the JTM lays out: (1) the key trends that are driving change in the Food Services sector; (2) the impact of these trends on the sector and individual jobs; (3) the pathways for employers to transform jobs; and (4) the skills required by workers as job roles evolve, to future proof the Food Services industry.
8. The JTM will serve as a compass to guide companies and workers in their job transformation journey. It will help them prepare for the future of work in the food services sector as the business environment evolves. Ernst & Young, the firm commissioned to study the JTM for Food Services, will share their findings in greater detail later.
9. I want to assure you that the Government is committed to supporting the Food Services sector and its workers on this job transformation journey. Over the next three years, 40% of local jobs in the Food Services sector will require moderate to extensive levels of job redesign.
o For companies that need support to implement job redesign projects, feel free to look up the list of consultants provided by Workforce Singapore and tap on the Productivity Solutions Grant for Job Redesign.
o Companies can also leverage WSG’s Career Conversion Programme to reskill newly-hired individuals and help existing workers move into new, redesigned, or emerging roles such as in data analytics and sustainability. Their employees’ knowledge and skills can be further supplemented with SkillsFuture Series courses and Work Study Programmes.
10. I am very happy to see many of our industry partners here for the launch of the Jobs Transformation Map. On behalf of the Government, I want to say a big thank you to RAS, the Association of Catering Professionals Singapore, and the Singapore Nightlife Business Association for their strong support. We will continue to partner the Trade Associations and Chambers to work with more than 800 of their member companies, which employ approximately 80,000 workers, to transform their jobs in line with the JTM.
Driving sustainable practices to take advantage of the rising global trend
11. Besides the wave to optimise manpower, the other important driving force we will see is the push for sustainability across the world. The Government has since set our national goals for the Singapore Green Plan 2030. To reach our aims, we are committed to reducing food and packaging waste. One of the many ways food services companies can play a part in sustainability is to start off by auditing food waste or rolling out “Bring-Your-Own container” campaigns. Companies that wish to go one step further may also explore more advanced solutions such as food waste valorisation, which converts food waste into higher value-add products.
o Shopping malls like Causeway Point and hotels like Grand Hyatt Singapore and Andaz Singapore are looking to maintain a circular economy through food valorisation. They have embarked on trials to turn pre-and post-consumer food waste into crude protein for animal feed and okara flour. With the help of solution provider Life Lab, the hotel partners will adopt the food valorisation system permanently later this year.
12. We recognise that many companies are still learning how to pursue sustainable practices. We also recognise some employees are still new to sustainability and many consumers may be reluctant to pay more for sustainable solutions. These challenges will be discussed at this year’s Restaurant Asia Leadership Symposium. As industry practitioners share how they have overcome the challenges, I trust that you will be encouraged to press on with your sustainability practices.
13. On this note, I am greatly heartened to share that the Sustainability Council for the Food Services industry will be officially included under the Restaurant Association of Singapore as a sub-chapter. With this move, we can expect a stronger push by the industry on sustainability matters. I want to assure you again that the Government will work closely with RAS and the Sustainability Council to drive initiatives and events to create greater awareness of sustainability in the industry and more importantly, among our consumers. Together, we will inspire and give more companies the confidence to press on with their sustainable practices. It does not have to be a zero-sum game, and it does not have to be mutually exclusive.
Bringing Singapore brands overseas
14. The third important thing is to bring our Singapore brands overseas. Singapore’s F&B industry has grown and matured over the years. Some of our food brands are increasingly recognised overseas. With the lifting of borders, there is no better time than now for ready companies to venture overseas to capture new markets.
15. Several companies in the Food Services industry have already taken their first steps.
o 4Fingers set up its first wholly-owned outlet in Jakarta late last year, while Song Fa Bak Kut Teh is introducing its new concept Song Fa Kway Chap in Indonesia later this year.
16. RAS is actively helping companies explore potential overseas partnerships. For instance, it led 11 companies on a mission trip to Japan in November last year to find promising business collaborations with Japanese counterparts. Discussions with potential partners are still ongoing. This is a very good start, and we are looking forward to hearing more of such successful tie-ups soon.
17. In closing, I want to thank our business leaders in the Food Services sector for their strong support in the last three years. This is the time fo expand our footprint regionally and overseas together, and future-proof our industry. I also want to assure food services companies that you have our full support, and I hope you will continue to work with the Government and industry partners to secure a brighter future. We are fully committed to supporting you in this transformation journey. This is important not just for the sector, but for Singapore and Singaporeans. I want the companies in the Food Services sector to know that you are not just making a contribution to the economy and jobs, but you are also contributing to the happiness quotient of Singaporeans. Food is what Singaporeans love best, so you are in a good place to succeed – for we not only eat to live but we also live to eat!
18. On this note, I wish you a very successful and fruitful time here at Restaurant Asia 2023. Thank you.