S'pore firm, Japan's Kokubu tie up on food supply chain

(From left) National Environment Agency chairman Liak Teng Lit; Mr Andrew Kwan, group managing director of Commonwealth Capital Group; Mr Kanbei Kokubu, chairman and CEO of Kokubu Group; and Mr Yusuke Arai, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Japan i
(From left) National Environment Agency chairman Liak Teng Lit; Mr Andrew Kwan, group managing director of Commonwealth Capital Group; Mr Kanbei Kokubu, chairman and CEO of Kokubu Group; and Mr Yusuke Arai, deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Japan in Singapore, at the signing ceremony of the joint venture.PHOTO: COMMONWEALTH CAPITAL

Joint venture to offer cold-chain logistics services to Asean markets

The Singapore firm that owns popular restaurant brands PastaMania and Soup Spoon is teaming up with a Japanese food wholesaler to serve the South-east Asian market.

The new company will provide a supply chain to food retailers and related companies. This will include all aspects of food supply, from managing inventory in pre-production to using warehouses with controlled temperatures to providing delivery services to clients.

The joint venture - Commonwealth Kokubu Logistics - will combine the managerial expertise of Singapore investment holding company Commonwealth Capital Group with Japanese food wholesaler Kokubu Group.

Commonwealth Capital Group has Swissbake in its portfolio, alongside PastaMania and Soup Spoon.

Kokubu runs 279 food logistics and distribution centres in Japan. They deliver items from 10,000 food manufacturers to 35,000 customers, including hotels, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and convenience stores.

The new company is reviewing potential sites in the region to build a network of logistics centres. These centres will have state-of-the-art facilities that guarantee the products remain cold along the logistics chain in the Asean markets.

Mr Andrew Kwan, group managing director of Commonwealth Capital Group, said: "We have now set our sights on establishing similar facilities across all the major cities in South-east Asia.

"This will allow us to offer our signature cold-chain logistics services through our own network of contiguous facilities in all the major cities.

"I cannot over-emphasise the strategic and economic importance of Asean markets within the emergent Indo-Pacific to a Singapore company, given the geopolitics of our world in recent times. Our expansion into one of the fastest-growing regions of the world is timely, to say the least."

The new company will optimise its Singapore fleet of temperature-controlled vehicles by allowing food from various vendors to be consolidated so that clients do not have to arrange their own transport. It will also use high-tech systems to plan delivery routes.

The joint venture will use technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things in its supply chain, so products can be traced from the farm to the end user, among other benefits.

This real-time inventory management should help earn customers' trust in the products, improve safety and cut food wastage.

The company will also work with local food manufacturers, food technology firms and specialists to serve meals to the elderly and those with special needs. These meals can be delivered to hotels, hospitals, childcare centres, schools and military bases.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore firm, Japan's Kokubu tie up on food supply chain'. Print Edition | Subscribe