Singapore Budget 2018: Boost for food business eyeing overseas markets

The new Enterprise Development Grant will help Mr Hasan Abdul Rahman's Pondok Abang, which produces halal ready-to-eat meals and frozen food, to expand.
The new Enterprise Development Grant will help Mr Hasan Abdul Rahman's Pondok Abang, which produces halal ready-to-eat meals and frozen food, to expand.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

New grants and tax deductions to help local firms go international and innovate could have Aussies enjoying Singapore's sizzling flavours of beef rendang and curry chicken while the elderly here could be tucking into tastier and healthier meals.

These are some ways food company owner Hasan Abdul Rahman wants to grow the family business, Pondok Abang, which produces halal ready-to-eat meals and frozen food.

In particular, the new Enterprise Development Grant, which provides up to 70 per cent funding support for local firms to scale up and go international, will help the firm, which is eyeing the Australian and Thai markets.

"We were concerned that when we grow, we may have the output, but nowhere to sell, said Mr Hasan, 29. "But the new grant lets us do both - we can grow and also generate partnerships overseas for us to sell our products."

He is also glad for the new Productivity Solutions Grant. This offers up to 70 per cent funding for off-the-shelf productivity solutions so Mr Hasan can buy new machinery to boost productivity.

His next purchase is a $130,000 machine from Germany that will package frozen and ready-to-eat food, cutting down on manpower as each package now has to be manually weighed and sealed.

It doesn't mean that the company, with a headcount of 20, will let go of workers.

 

"Bringing in machines lets us teach our staff new things. There is progression," said Mr Hasan. "When the company expands, staff also expand in their career path - no longer are they packers, but they can be supervisors, who teach others how to operate the machines."

 

Additional grants for local businesses that do research and development here have also spurred Mr Hasan to look into developing healthy options for the elderly.

"We want to develop innovative food products specifically for the elderly, such as maybe something suitable for people with diabetes, to meet the growing ageing population," he said.

Lester Hio

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'Boost for food business eyeing overseas markets'. Print Edition | Subscribe