Mr Vijay Iyengar
Chairman and Managing Director, Agrocorp International
Mr Bernard Nee
Deputy President (Industry & Community), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Congrats Agrocorp International on your launch of HerbY-Cheese, Singapore’s first plant-based and nut-free cheese range.
2. Agrocorp is a homegrown company that has been steadily expanding since 1990. It has strengthened its innovation capabilities and boldly diversified beyond its core business of wholesale trading. HerbY-Cheese is its latest product from HerbYvore, their in-house plant-based consumer brand.
3. Agrocorp is one of many success stories in Singapore’s trade ecosystem. Earlier this year, the Government launched the Wholesale Trade Industry Transformation Map 2025 for government agencies to work with traders to diversify and grow their businesses. Agrocorp is one such company which Enterprise Singapore has worked closely with. We are helping our Singapore traders to become globally competitive, to entrench Singapore’s position as a global trading hub, in line with our Trade 2030 vision.
4. Companies like Agrocorp also take Singapore’s food ecosystem to new heights. 10 years ago, not many would have believed that “cheese could come from plants”. Yet today, these “impossible” foods have gained a strong foothold in our markets. Thanks to our companies’ efforts to innovate, alternative proteins today are more affordable, tastier, healthier, and also a sustainable food source.
5. Allow me to share three key ingredients for this success:
INNOVATION: Singapore has a strong innovation ecosystem for companies to strengthen their R&D capabilities.
6. Many agri-traders like Agrocorp, have chosen Singapore as a launchpad to innovate and capture the growing demand in sustainable and innovative foods in Asia. This is in part due to the strong agri-food innovation ecosystem we have built over the years, which continues to evolve with the tech trends and needs of the sector.
a. Today, we are home to the world’s biggest international agricultural trading and processing companies. These companies collectively manage a fifth of global agri-commodities trade flows through Singapore.
b. The pool of Singapore companies and start-ups specialising in innovative agri-food solutions is also growing.
7. We cannot achieve our goal to transform Singapore into a leading global food hub alone. We need government, industry and academia - just like a well-crafted cheese platter (featuring HerbY-Cheese), where each flavour enhances the other!
a. Government agencies like Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) allow global corporates to partner Singapore companies for joint innovation efforts. We do this through platforms like the Singapore Agri-Food Innovation Lab and the Open Innovation Challenges.
b. We also have multi-agency efforts that foster co-innovation, such as FoodInnovate, led by agencies like EnterpriseSG, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Economic Development Board (EDB), and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). FoodInnovate launched the SIT FoodPlant in April last year for companies to access shared facilities and testbed new food products without having to invest heavily into equipment. Agrocorp is one of the companies using SIT FoodPlant to produce “plant-food” – prototypes of plant-based dairy alternatives like cheeses.
c. Innovation is also underpinned by strong industry-academia partnerships, such as the joint research programme between SIT and Agrocorp, supported by EnterpriseSG. This helped Agrocorp improve the extraction efficiency of pea protein used in its plant-based food products and its ability to export excess protein isolates as the company scales up production.
8. Innovation is key to a resilient food future for Singapore. Agri-food companies and startups have transformed our challenge of limited resources into an opportunity, by using new tech, and with support from Singapore’s robust R&D ecosystem.
INTERNATIONALISATION: Internationalisation ensures that Singapore companies can remain globally competitive.
9. To help our homegrown companies scale up beyond the domestic market, we must also increase trade flows with overseas markets. This will help build supply chain resilience and diversify revenue sources. The Government will continue to help our businesses internationalise.
a. Agrocorp is testament to how companies can benefit from an extensive global footprint. It has activities across 50 countries and can easily access a wide range of markets for sourcing. For instance, Agrocorp sourced directly from Canadian farmers to supply peas used for producing HerbY-Cheese.
b. EnterpriseSG has also worked with Agrocorp to explore more potential markets and set up its upcoming factory in Malaysia that manufactures plant-based foods. Agrocorp also plans to export HerbYvore branded products to markets such as Europe, where there is a growing demand for sustainable food products.
SUSTAINABILITY: Singapore companies should also capture new opportunities in sustainable agri-innovation.
10. The green economy is brimming with potential, and companies can break into this space by developing and trading sustainable products, including plant-based proteins.
11. Glad that Singapore businesses are recognising importance of developing food options that support near-term demands, and our longer-term food security objectives. This also supports our “30 by 30” goal to produce 30% of our nutritional needs by 2030 in a sustainable manner.
CONCLUSION: Encourage more companies to diversify their businesses to capture new opportunities in sustainable foods.
12. Agrocorp’s HerbY-Cheese proves it is possible to produce more food with less harmful environmental impact. Today’s launch gives us “food for thought” on how companies can explore opportunities that diversify their businesses.
13. Looking forward to more such innovative products entering the domestic and international markets, as we work towards a more sustainable and resilient food future.
14. Thank you, and congrats again to Agrocorp on your successful product launch.