French ingredient maker Roquette opens R&D centre, Asia head office in Singapore

 Roquette CEO Jean-Marc Gilson at the opening of the company's new Asia HQ and innovation centre in Singapore.
Roquette CEO Jean-Marc Gilson at the opening of the company's new Asia HQ and innovation centre in Singapore.PHOTO: ANNABETH LEOW

SINGAPORE - French plant-based ingredients maker Roquette opened on Thursday (Oct 26) a regional headquarters and a research centre in Singapore as it steps up its focus on Asian growth.

Roquette said its over 1,100sq m new innovation centre at Biopolis will allow the company to partner with customers, universities and research institutions, such as Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*star) or the National University of Singapore.

Its state-of-the-art facilities, which include a research laboratory, customer technical services as well as the new regional headquarters, will allow Roquette to tailor its products and address the specific health and dietary challenges of the region such as obesity or diabetes.

Roquette's headcount in Singapore has grown from 15 employees last year to around 50 now, and is expected to hit 70 to 80 in the next two to three years, said CEO Jean-Marc Gilson.

"Singapore's connectivity with countries throughout Asia makes it the perfect place to locate these new facilities, which will be a key part of our global network," said Mr Gilson. "The talent and skills of Singapore professionals are impressive, and our local team will make a big impact."

A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh noted at the opening that Singapore is home to the R&D centres of some of the world's largest food, nutrition and pharmaceutical companies like Nestle.

Mr Lim also announced tie-ups between Roquette and A*Star's Bioprocessing Technology Institute and Clinical Nutrition Research Centre to look at issues such as how different Asian populations react to certain dietary ingredients.

Mr Gilson said Roquette plans to follow up the expansion in Singapore with acquisitions and new factories as it expands further in Asia to tap rising demand for nutrition products from a growing middle class.

The company is targetting 10 per cent annual growth in Asia, faster than elsewhere, he added. Asia already generates a quarter of Roquette's annual sales of about €3.2 billion (S$5.14 billion)

Roquette processes crops such as maize, potatoes and peas to extract substances like starch and protein for processing into ingredients for food and drug products.

The family-owned firm has already announced this year plans to develop the world's largest pea protein factory in Canada and a deal to acquire pharmaceutical tablet maker Itacel in Brazil.