Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Official Inauguration of Shiok Meats' Mini Plant on 22 November 2021
**SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AT THE OFFICIAL INAUGURATION OF SHIOK MEATS’ MINI PLANT ON 22 NOV 2021**
Dr Sandhya Sriram, Chief Executive Officer of Shiok Meats
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good morning everyone. I thank Shiok Meats for inviting me to the inauguration of its Mini Plant. This plant will be a welcome addition to our sustainable agri-food ecosystem.
Contribution of Alternative Proteins to Food Security
2 Our agri-food sector has the potential to grow by harnessing technology and innovation. In true Singaporean fashion, even with challenges such as the lack of land, resources and manpower. Indeed, we see opportunities. An opportunity to develop solutions that can help us produce food in a sustainable, climate-resilient and resource-efficient way. Singapore as a living lab can develop solutions that will serve not just ourselves but the region and the world.
3 The '30 by 30' goal seeks to do that. We are building up our capability and capacity to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030. With limited natural resources, R&D and technology are critical enablers for us. We will need food innovations and alternative methods of food production to help us 'grow more with less'. Shiok Meats' cultured seafood is one such innovation. It presents an inventive way for Singapore to produce proteins that would otherwise require a substantial amount of land, carbon, water to grow. Alternative protein products can contribute to our '30 by 30' goal and supplement the wider food mix of commonly consumed proteins such as eggs and fish.
4 We are beginning to see rapid development of alternative protein products, fueled by increasing consumer preference for sustainable food products. Plant-based meat by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are available at retail shelves and restaurants, while cultured chicken bites by Eat Just are served in several restaurants here. Such innovations seemed like a pipe dream just a few years ago but are gaining popularity among consumers now.
5 And I am glad to see Singaporean companies at the forefront of this global drive. Shiok Meats is our homegrown company developing cultured seafood products and has raised about USD$30 million in investment funding since its inception three years ago. The opening of this mini R&D plant is a significant milestone for Shiok Meats as it expands its R&D efforts and validates its unique cellular agriculture technology for the production of cultured shrimp, crab and lobster.
Importance of Food Safety
6 Even as we conquer new grounds in food innovations and develop new food products, we must ensure that our food is safe.
7 To ensure that our regulatory framework is robust and up to date with food innovations, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has engaged the industry and scientific community on the possible approaches to regulate the safety of novel foods and ingredients.
8 In 2019, SFA introduced a novel food regulatory framework, which requires companies to go through pre-market safety assessments for novel food that do not have a history of being consumed as food. In 2020, SFA established a Novel Food Safety Expert Working Group that comprises experts in relevant fields such as food toxicology, bioinformatics, nutrition, epidemiology, public health policy and food science and technology, to provide scientific advice and ensure safety assessments are rigorously reviewed. Last December, Singapore became the first country in the world to approve cultured chicken for consumption after it passed our safety assessment framework.
9 In April this year, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), SFA and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) launched the Future Ready Food Safety Hub, or FRESH – to drive food safety research and build food safety capabilities to support Singapore's growing food innovation ecosystem, which includes alternative proteins. Companies can tap on FRESH for R&D collaborations and seek assistance as they prepare their novel food for regulatory assessments, to ensure that these "first-in-market" food products can be safely launched in Singapore.
10 I encourage companies, including Shiok Meats, to engage SFA early in their development process of novel food products so that SFA can facilitate the regulatory approval process. SFA is updating the information on its novel food safety assessment framework in collaboration with FRESH, to provide detailed guidance to the industry on how they can establish the safety of their food products. SFA has also conducted sessions on the novel food regulatory framework to facilitate companies' understanding of the requirements for novel food application.
11 The challenges to food safety that we face today will continue to evolve. The future of food will require us to cultivate an integrated ecosystem that pairs innovation with food safety, one which is backed by a forward-looking regulatory environment based on science. As we continue to provide the support needed for agri-food tech companies to anchor and thrive in Singapore, SFA will keep abreast of the latest technologies and ensure a robust food safety system as new technologies and products emerge. I encourage our industry partners and consumers to take on the joint responsibility with us to ensure safe food for all.
12 I congratulate Shiok Meats for the inauguration of its Mini Plant. I look forward to Shiok Meats' expansion of its R&D efforts at the new plant, and your cultured shrimp, crab, and lobster in the market.
13 Thank you.