SINGAPORE (Oct 29): The late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once remarked that “Singapore is possibly the most food-centric place on Earth, with the most enthusiastic diners, the most varied and abundant, affordable dishes — available for cheap — on a per-square-mile basis.” Yet, food was not always abundant in Singapore. Many Singaporeans would remember the brief but uncomfortable episode of stock-piling rice in 2008 during the global food crisis. It was a confluence of factors, including droughts and rising oil prices, that resulted in imported food prices spiking 12%. The government had to step in to assure the public that there was an ample stockpile of rice in government warehouses, and local supermarkets such as Fairprice had to limit the number of packets of rice each person could buy as rice prices rose 30%. It was not a pleasant time, but it was a stark reminder of the importance of food security even in a city as affluent as Singapore.

Asia’s evolving food requirements provide opportunities for food tech investing

The history of the modernisation of Singapore is a short one, but it is in many ways a microcosm of a fast-developing Asia. Singapore’s population has tripled since its founding in 1965, while Singaporean consumers have also accepted premiumisation rapidly as the economy developed. Asia is experiencing similar strains with one of the fastest-growing demographics and now making up 60% of the world’s population. A growing Asia means its voracious appetite for food continues to grow and food security becomes of paramount concern. In addition, premiumisation has occurred swiftly in China, and the Chinese taste and requirement for food have clearly evolved. As the middle class in China becomes more affluent, there is an increasing demand for more innovations in food safety, smarter food production and distribution as well as the deployment of new technologies in farmlands. As Asia’s food requirements grow and evolve, food technology thus provides a huge opportunity to invest in and shape the sustainability of our future.

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