THE FUTURE OF URBAN FOOD

In Agrifood Innovation Summit Asia and AgriFood Tech expo Asia 26-28 October

This year’s APAC Agri-Food Innovation Summit and Agri-Food Tech expo Asia drew in over 1100 international visitors and partners from the agrifood ecosystem in Singapore to taste, speak, listen and share their innovative solutions on the key theme of resilience and security in Asia.

Our senior strategy consultant Brigitte Zeller shared her highlights and insights.

I was amazed by the large presence of Tech Startups from Singapore, France, Israel, the USA, and from AESEAN countries! Every time I stopped to ask: “why are you here?” I often received the same answer, “the access to a vibrant ecosystem with universities, R&D, ingredient facilities, government agencies and regulation body all working together. We feel the energy!”

So, why Singapore? Countries with limited agricultural land (Singapore has less than 1% dedicated to agriculture and imports more than 90% of its food) are the ones which have a clear objective of food security and are therefore turning to and investing into Food Tech innovation to strengthen urban food systems. Singapore has for the first time a pavilion at COP 27. Singapore was the first country in the world to approve cell meat (we now call cultivated meat) and has defined a regulatory  framework for novel ingredients. For the innovative start-ups I talked  to it means being able to launch quicker and to test and learn before market expansion!

As Grace Fu, minister of sustainability and environment of Singapore, mentioned we have entered in the 4th agricultural revolution and many start-ups are looking to accelerate this urban food revolution.

I could imagine the Future of Urban Food even if the barriers of adoption are still  there.

Among many I found several very clear focuses:

1. The Regenerative Revolution

There are already more than 250 licences of urban farms in Singapore and more than 10 high tech  indoor vertical farms aiming for large-scale next-level sustainable food growth. This idea has also been brought to the home allowing consumers to have an in-home farm like a wine cellar in the kitchen.

  • AEJOU is the first plug-and-play smart micro farm designed like a kitchen appliance to grow your own herbs at home! Smart notifications keep you informed about how your plants are doing in real-time.
Aejou show off their plug-and-play smart micro farm.
  • French start-up UBEES is committed to a single goal: saving the bees. UBEES Combines traditional beekeeping expertise and innovative science and technology to sustain biodiversity.

 2. New Alternative Proteins

Introducing their growing knowledge and experience of cellular agriculture for cultivated seafood or meat:

  • Deep-tech food company STEAKHOLDER gave an impressive demonstration of the 3D bioprinting technology behind their cultivated steak. However, questions still remain: are consumers going to accept tech food? Or food made with cultivated ingredients? Here price will be a critical factor in acceptance.
Deep-tech food company Steakholder demonstrate their 3D bioprinting technology
  • Seafood tech is still nascent with less than 1% of cultivated fish consumption. With a vision to evolve and maintain balance in the world’s oceans UMAMI MEATS brings regenerative seafood though cell cultivated, not caught, fish.

3. The Next Exploration of Protein

  • Next generation plant-based meat:

  • With its first whole cut plant-based meat SHANDI is already scaling up plant-based alternatives to be the path to replace meat, not food. Shandi’s unique blend of plant ingredients delivers on both taste and texture with a complete protein profile matching that of conventional meat.
Shandi’s vegan plant-based chicken drumstick
  • New directions for insect protein:

Insects are common in Asia, especially in Thailand where over fifty species of insects are eaten and in Vietnam where it is common to find a whole variety of roasted bug delicacies. Although certain applications of insect protein are more popular than others among human consumers, here I might refer to cricket flour, many companies are trying to make the most of it in the area of sustainable animal feed.

  • INSEACT, a Singapore-based biotech is aspiring to bring value to the aquaculture farming sector with insect protein-powered shrimp feed to replace traditional fishmeal and their nutrient-rich XFprotein obtained from dried and ground black soldier fly larvae serves to promote the gut health of animals through the introduction of beneficial gut microbiota.
Inseact’s pamphlet shows the various benefits of their insect protein-powered shrimp feed
  • Making algae palatable:  

  • TRITON ALGAE INNOVATIONS is demonstrating that algae is not only packed with high nutrition, but is a versatile ingredient that can be used in local cuisine. For new protein sources adaptation to local taste and cuisine is key! Consumers eat food, not food tech!
Triton Algae Innovations’ pamphlet outlines how algae can be used a versatile ingredient

In conclusion, the AgriFood Innovation Summit created  the  environment to understand and meet the diverse partners of  the ecosystem for sustainable and innovative ideas and support  the path to accelerate solutions. There are now far more companies and prototypes showcasing their goals and visions for the future but the fundamentals to create adoption by consumers to new categories are the same as traditional food: adaptation to local taste and culture, convenience, right value or price parity and nutrition.

Do you want to know more about trends in the Asian market and how to leverage them for your brand?

Don’t hesitate to reach out, contact our Senior APAC Consultant Brigitte at brigitte@thehmt.com and UP you game in Asia!