While the alternative protein movement is still in its infancy in Asia, Singapore stands out from the crowd and has of late become a central food tech innovation hub in the region. According to the Asia Alternative Protein Industry Report, the first in-depth look at the region’s new food economy, the city-state is the headquarter for several leading Asian startups disrupting the broken global food system with groundbreaking technology, from cellular agriculture to whole plant food optimisation. Government support and funding has been a vital underpinning of the promising emerging food-tech ecosystem, and the Lion City’s top brass consider this a crucial element of the city-state’s plan to face inevitable climate-related challenges in the future including food insecurity.
Singapore has recently launched a $100 billion (US$72 billion) plan to prepare itself for the effects of the current climate crisis, involving everything from building infrastructure to cope with rising sea levels and floodwater as global heating escalates to reducing carbon emissions.
A core part of this plan will also involve measures to battle food insecurity. While this is an issue that the entire world faces as unpredictable climate events wipe out crops yields of staple foods, Singapore is acutely vulnerable due to its current 90% reliance on foreign food imports. Relatedly, the city needs to tackle the unsustainable nature of current animal protein consumption and production, which is not only fuelling greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation but also contributing to Singapore’s rising health and nutrition crisis.
So what measures exactly is the city taking? First of all, Singapore is heavily investing in alternative protein research and development, which will again bolster its self-sufficiency in food production while disrupting the resource-intensive nature of traditional animal agriculture. To that end, authorities have already appointed a full time Alternative Protein Analyst dedicated to aid the growth of the industry and create the necessary regulatory frameworks to bring novel products to market.
Further, as startups and entrepreneurs continue to launch companies in Singapore, so the rest of the ecosystem follows, with many major regional foodtech events such as taking place there such as ID Capital’s Future Food Asia and Rethink Event’s Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Week. The city is also home to 3 of the 6 alt-protein friendly accelerators listed in the report including GROW, Big Idea Ventures and Innovate 360.
In addition, by matching the amount of funding Singaporean startups raise, the government has incentivised the growth of some of the most groundbreaking companies with leading sustainable food solutions to set up shop in the city. From Shiok Meats’ cell-based shrimp that will help combat plastic pollution, species extinction and food traceability issues to Life3 Biotech’s algae-based protein, Karana’s young jackfruit-based whole food meat alternative and TurtleTree Labs’ world’s first lab-grown dairy and human breast milk, there is no shortage of food tech innovation in Singapore.
Singapore is also is rolling out a S$140 million (US$101 million) self-sufficiency plan to ramp up local food production to 30% by 2030. Backed by government funding, a number of homegrown biotechnology startups are already on the ground working towards this goal. The Singapore government’s investment arm, Temasek Holdings is active in the space too: it has invested in Sustenir, which produces foreign crops in lab-controlled vertical farms powered by artificial intelligence and LED lighting. Temasek was also an early shareholder in US alternative protein giants such as Impossible Foods and JUST Egg.
With these developments underway in Singapore, it is likely that this decade will bring on the much-needed alternative protein shift across Asia.
Want to know more about Asia’s alternative protein space? Download the first in-depth Asia Alternative Protein Industry Report: New Protein New Decade by Green Queen Media here.
Lead image courtesy of Shiok Meats.