Good morning, Mr Ang Hak Seng, Chief Executive Officer of HPB
Mr Png Cheong Boon, Chief Executive of SPRING Singapore
Mr Wong Mong Hong, President of the Singapore Food Manufacturers Association
Honoured guests and friends
1. I am delighted to welcome all of you to the inaugural FINEST Food Symposium and Exhibition.
2. Like its acronym suggests, the aim of this conference is to encourage the development of Functional, Innovative, Nutritious, Effective, Science-based and Tasty foods in Singapore.
3. Out of the six adjectives that just rolled off my tongue, the one that may require some explanation is ‘functional’. So what is functional food? Actually, all of us are probably already eating functional foods whether we realise it or not. I give you 3 examples - our yoghurts containing bacterial culture for breakfast, bread with extra fibre for lunch and maybe eggs with Omega-3 fat for dinner.
4. A functional food is similar in appearance to conventional food that is consumed as part of a usual diet, but with added ingredients or compositions that are proven to confer health benefits beyond basic nutrition.
A growing demand for healthy foods
5. A multi-billion dollar industry, the global functional food market grew by about 40 per cent between 2006 and 2010. It is now worth an estimated $32 billion, and is one of the fastest-growing segments in the global food scene. Factors fuelling this boom include an increasing number of health-conscious consumers and their growing preference for functional foods over supplements to meet their nutritional needs.
6. By 2014, the global market for functional foods is forecast to grow by 23 per cent to $38 billion, with Asia Pacific accounting for 40 per cent of the total market share. Rapidly emerging markets include Australia, China, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia which have large export potential.
7. Closer to home, healthier foods are becoming popular choices for consumers, with sales of Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) products growing at an average of 8 per cent yearly. Recent surveys show that one in two commonly consumed foods like milk, oil, sauces and premixes, sweetened beverages and soy products carry the Healthier Choice Symbol.
Healthy, but also tasty, accessible and affordable
8. These numbers must surely give you, our food manufacturers present today, some food for thought, the pun intended. In a crowded and competitive food market, the development and manufacture of well-positioned functional foods offer good prospects for growth both locally and in the region.
9. What do I mean by ‘well-positioned’? Well, for a functional food to be successful, it must appeal to the consumer on platforms other than health. In other words, it must also be tasty, accessible and appropriately priced.
10. This is the time to be innovative. This is the time to explore. This is the time to experiment. But you don’t have to work in isolation. The reason we are all here today is to share, learn and equip ourselves with the necessary know-how to design and develop healthier functional food products to meet the needs of both the local and global consumer.
The FINEST Food Programme
11. I launched the FINEST Food Programme in October last year as a tripartite initiative among the government sector, private sector and knowledge sector.
12. By aligning assistance schemes with the technical expertise of various Institutes of Higher Learning such as Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic and the Food Innovation and Resource Centre housed at Singapore Polytechnic, the FINEST Food Programme aims to be a one-stop resource hub for food manufacturers venturing into the functional foods market.
13. The goal of the programme is to create healthy and tasty food that is accessible not just at the supermarkets but also at hawker centres and restaurants, starting with two healthier products – salt that has lower sodium content and wholegrain noodles.
14. I am pleased to share with you that our partners in the food industry have seen the sales volume of healthier salt increase by 15 per cent while the production of wholegrain jumped four times since the two products were launched in the mass market last year as part of the FINEST Food Programme.
15. The average intake of salt in Singapore is 8.3 grammes per day, which exceeds the daily salt recommendation of 5 grammes per day. If the trend in sales for lower sodium salt continues, however, the proportion of people exceeding the daily salt recommendation will likely reduce by 30 per cent from 8 in 10 to 6 in 10 by 2015.
16. Studies have estimated that a reduction in daily salt intake by just 1-gramme can lower blood pressure by an average of 2-mmHg. This, in turn, can reduce the incidence of stroke by about 10 per cent and that of heart disease by 5 per cent.
The FINEST Food Symposium and Exhibition
17. We must continue the good work we started last year to produce more functional foods for the market. Today’s FINEST Food Symposium and Exhibition marries the science, technology and economics of healthier foods by bringing together key partners in the functional food value chain, so as to help food manufacturers like you plan and develop healthier products.
18. Let me urge you then to use this conference as an opportunity to crystallise those plans, even as you hobnob with that established ingredient supplier with the latest food solutions, a certain well-known food technologist, R&D experts with exciting breakthroughs, or market analysts to give you an insight to what consumers want.
19. The sheer diversity of prototypes being exhibited, complete with state-of-the-art ingredients, will also attest to the multitude of possibilities open before you.
20. As conference participants, you will have a chance to visit local application laboratories and innovation centres, and gain valuable hands-on experience.
Grants of more than $10,000
21. As an additional nudge, HPB is partnering SPRING Singapore to provide grants worth more than $10,000 to local SMEs developing new functional food products. You may use this grant to procure the services of food science experts, who can help turn your ideas and concepts to market-ready reality.
22. I, for one, am excited about the possibilities and potential for growth that await this industry. And I can’t wait to see – and taste – your innovative creations in the months ahead.
23. On this note, I wish you a fruitful time at the FINEST Food Symposium and Exhibition 2012.
24. Thank you.
 Adapted from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/scienceandeducation/publications/annualreport/fsanzannualreport20052006/ourregulatorymeasures2006/foodstandardsdevelop3352.cfm)
 $10,000 comprises of SPRING’s Innovation Capability Voucher (ICV) worth $5,000 for initial stages of product innovation and development; and HPB Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) New Product Development Grant worth $5,000 to meet nutritional standards to qualify for HCS certification. Alternatively, for projects with larger scope, SMEs can tap on SPRING’s Technology Innovation Programme that fund up to 70% of qualifying cost.