New centre with focus on Asian health, nutrition

Staff at the Cargill centre preparing samples of food products during a tour of the facility.
Staff at the Cargill centre preparing samples of food products during a tour of the facility.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

A new centre that will conduct research into Asian health and nutrition opened yesterday, run by American corporation Cargill, and supported by government agencies Enterprise Singapore and the Economic Development Board (EDB).

Marking yet another collaboration between the private and public sectors, the centre will employ 20 food scientists by the end of the year.

They will study patterns in Asian health and nutrition, and forecast changes in consumer trends in taste, nutrition and food safety.

The centre was opened yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon and is the first in South-east Asia, after Cargill's regional centres in Beijing and Shanghai.

The centre also connects the company's customers in the Asia-Pacific region to a global network of 10 other innovation centres and 2,000 food scientists.

"Tapping Singapore's research and development capabilities and talent pool, the Cargill Innovation Centre will bring research ideas from the laboratory to kitchens across Asia," Dr Koh said.

He added that this research will help Cargill develop new food products, with a focus on gut health, weight management, infant nutrition and geriatric nutrition.

The Cargill centre will also work with local small to medium-sized enterprises and start-ups, to develop new health and nutrition solutions for the Asian market, such as plant-based protein, sugar alternatives and personal care products, he said.

The Cargill centre is the latest in a series of initiatives between companies and public agencies such as Enterprise Singapore and the EDB to foster innovation, helping local companies stay competitive with the rapid advancement of technology, said Dr Koh.

The Cargill centre will also work with local small to medium-sized enterprises and start-ups, to develop new health and nutrition solutions for the Asian market, such as plant-based protein, sugar alternatives and personal care products, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

For instance, FoodInnovate was launched in April last year to help local food businesses tap the resources and facilities of larger companies.

Another initiative in the pipeline is the Agri Open Innovation Lab, slated to be launched by Enterprise Singapore early next year.

It is hoped this will bring together conglomerates, start-ups, enterprises, research institutions and pioneers in disruptive technology to work on key issues facing the agri-food sector: helping to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, raise food traceability and enhance food security and safety.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2019, with the headline 'New centre with focus on Asian health, nutrition'. Print Edition | Subscribe