First-in-Singapore Shared Facility for Small Batch Production to be set up at JTC Food Hub @ Senoko

JTC officially opened its Food Hub @ Senoko, a purpose-built food facility that will be home to an ecosystem of players in the food industry. At the official opening ceremony graced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Education, Mr Chee Hong Tat, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Enterprise Singapore, JTC and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to set up a shared facility for small batch production at the Food Hub to support innovation in the industry.

Jointly conceptualised with the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association (SFMA) and Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), JTC Food Hub @ Senoko is designed to help food companies reduce capital and operating costs through shared facilities and services. A key feature is an integrated cold room and warehouse facility (CWF) that tenants can tap on a pay-per-use basis, instead of committing capital and operating expenditure to build and operate their own CWF. The shared CWF is operated by StorBest @ Senoko Pte Ltd, which also offers distribution services that tenants can tap on instead of investing and maintaining their own delivery fleets.

Tenderfresh Fried & BBQ Chicken Pte Ltd is one of the companies that has set up operations at the food hub. The company previously operated from seven units across multiple floors at Woodlands Loop. Mr Jimmy Soh, Managing Director of Tenderfresh, said, “The modular units at Food Hub has given us the flexibility to combine two factory units for a larger factory floor. This has allowed us to consolidate our operations, redesign our production layout and make further investments in automation. Our productivity has since increased by about 20%. It has also enabled us to reallocate our manpower resources to other value-added activities. The CWF supports our bulk storage needs and offers us much convenience with it located directly below our factory units at the Hub.”

Mr Collin Phua, Managing Director of StorBest said, “The concept of a shared CWF presents food manufacturers with a new logistics solution and a new way to bring products to market. By outsourcing storage requirements to the CWF, companies can also allocate more space in their units for production. Apart from the tenants here, we have also received interest from food manufacturers in the vicinity to tap on the CWF facility.”

Small Batch Production Facility to Strengthen Food Innovation

Targeted to be operational in end-2019, the shared facility set up by Enterprise Singapore, JTC and SIT is a first in Singapore that aims to fill a gap in the market for small batch production. The facility helps food manufacturers overcome challenges in the development and scalable manufacture of new food products.

Food manufacturers often face hurdles such as a lack of facilities, costly equipment, high opportunity costs and high minimum order requirements from outsourced manufacturers when commercialising new products after research and development (R&D).

The 1,130 sqm shared facility, to be operated by SIT, will make available production rooms and food processing equipment such as spray dryers1, extruders2 as well as advanced equipment such as Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilisation (MATS)3 and Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) equipment4 for companies to use on a pay-per-use basis. This will allow food manufacturers, especially start-ups and SMEs, to validate new products after R&D and test their commercial viability before making the leap to full-scale production.

On top of hardware support, there will be workplace training courses, masterclasses and seminars organised at the Food Hub for industry players to deepen technical capabilities and skills. For example, food manufacturing companies can develop capabilities in emerging food technologies through the Food Skills Development Programme (FSDP) supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and developed with Enterprise Singapore that aims to create industry solutions through collaboration between industry players and SIT.

SIT’s Vice President (Industry & Community), Associate Professor Ivan Lee said, “As a university of applied learning, SIT actively seeks to build a close nexus with the industry. We work closely with local companies to develop innovative processes and technological solutions to address their business challenges. This facility will serve as a conduit to translate technology know-how into new and better products and processes that can ultimately accelerate the growth of the Singapore food industry and contribute to developing Singapore into Asia’s leading food and nutrition hub.”

Mr David Tan, President of SFMA, said, “The small batch production facility provides a much-needed platform for local food players to trial new products on a smaller scale without having to invest in equipment before bringing them to market. This will greatly support the commercialisation of new products among food players and aid their expansion abroad.”

Mr Douglas Foo, President of SMF, said, “Apart from testing new products, food manufacturers can tap on the shared facility to develop capabilities in food technologies that will help them keep pace with advancing technologies and consumer trends. It encourages the adoption of advanced food processing technologies and automation among food manufacturers that will support the industry’s growth.”

The small batch production facility is an initiative under FoodInnovate, a multi-agency workgroup that looks at catalysing co-innovation and knowledge exchange among stakeholders in the food manufacturing industry.

An Environmentally Sustainable Facility

JTC Food Hub @ Senoko will add to JTC’s suite of sustainable industrial infrastructure by being the first food industrial development in Singapore that has been designed to support waste segregation.

The Food Hub is expected to generate up to 500 tonnes of food waste by next year. In facilitating downstream recycling, each factory unit is equipped with a separate waste room for organic and non-organic waste that encourages tenants to segregate their waste at source.

JTC will be studying suitable food waste recycling programmes to implement at the Hub by 2019. This is in line with JTC’s support for sustainable development, where it has developed an Environmental Sustainability Framework that will be applied across the agency’s entire portfolio of properties to further reduce energy and water usage, shrink emissions footprint, and increase the use of clean energy.

1 Spray drying – Technology to convert liquid into dry powder form via rapid drying with hot gas. Supports innovation of powder-form products that are more exportable and cost competitive than liquid products.

2 Extrusion – Technology widely used in the production of pasta, ready-to-eat cereals, snacks, pet food and textured vegetable protein.

3 Microwave assisted thermal sterilisation – Advanced technology that uses microwaves to kill bacteria, extending the shelf life of products for export. It is able to produce shelf stable products, like retort and high pressure processing methods. It opens up opportunities for export to further destinations.

4 Pulsed Electric Field – Advanced non-thermal technology that uses high burst of electrical pulses to inactivate bacteria food, extending the shelf life of products for export. It is suitable for liquid food products that MATS and retort cannot handle.