$200m logistics facility to be ready by 2025, as demand for imported perishables rises

The facility at 8 Jalan Besut, which can store up to 80 million kilograms of food, is expected to create 130 new jobs in the logistics sector. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - A $200 million food logistics facility is being set up as rising demand for imported perishables and food security concerns drive the need for cold storage to extend the shelf life of food products.

It is set to be completed by end-2025.

The facility at 8 Jalan Besut, which can store up to 80 million kilograms of food, is expected to create 130 new jobs in the logistics sector.

It will be operated by Commonwealth Kokubu Logistics, a joint venture between investment firm Commonwealth Capital and food and beverage cold chain logistics specialist Kokubu Group Corporation.

Commonwealth Capital’s logistics division currently operates out of two logistics facilities, located at 7 Buroh Lane and 1 Buroh Lane, with a total of 60,000 pallet positions, said Mr Andrew Kwan, its group managing director.

Pallet positions are a quantifiable metric for how much inventory a warehouse can hold.

“The construction of this third facility will increase our capacity by another 80,000 pallet positions... Achieving greater economies of scale in Singapore will support our internationalisation ambition,” Mr Kwan added.

The building will span 500,000 sq ft, about the size of 6½ football fields, and stand at 100m tall.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, who officiated the ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday, said: “As part of our Trade 2030 strategy, we aim to grow trading volumes by widening the types of activities in Singapore and developing new trade flows with the rest of the world.

“We expect to double the cold-chain perishables market in a decade.”

Upon completion, the new facility will have storage and fulfilment systems designed to improve operational productivity and make labour more efficient.

For example, it will feature technology like automated guided vehicles and automated mobile robots that reduce the manpower needed to operate in the cold chambers.

Minister for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling (left) looking at the model of the new food logistics facility. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Some of the new job scopes will include operating these robots.

“When workers think of automation, they think they will lose their jobs – especially those from the older generation.

“But what we want them to be able to do is to programme robots and work smarter,” said Mr Kwan.

Currently, without the robots, the workers have to enter the cold chambers at minus 18 deg C and perform their jobs manually. 

The new facility will also increase the speed of transshipment of food going through ports.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how food security might be challenged in events like a global pandemic, said Mr Kwan.

Mr Daniel Tan, executive director of Commonwealth Kokubu Logistics, said: “I think food is close to our hearts... To survive events like the pandemic, the availability of food is indeed paramount.

“That’s where we feel that we are able to contribute to the food security in Singapore.”

The facility will be jointly developed by Commonwealth Capital, Kokubu Group Corporation and Japanese construction firm Kajima Corporation.

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