Functional foods for the elderly could be the next big growth opportunity for Singapore firms

Seminar attendees were taken on a tour of DSM's facilities.

Functional foods for Asia’s ageing population have been identified as a core growth opportunity for firms in Singapore, with multinational outfit DSM, the government, market analysts and SMEs joining forces to share knowledge.

DSM has joined the nation’s Food Innovation Cluster – a body set up by government enterprise agency SPRING – to help boost the food and nutrition industry.

The FIC has been touted as key initiative under the Food Manufacturing Industry Transformation Map, which was launched in November 2016, to steer the development and growth of the industry over the next five years.

Last week DSM hosted the first of a series events on emerging food and nutrition trends in the region, with a focus on the ‘silver age and functional foods’.

The event was attended by 12 SMEs, including ingredients company Faesol Pte Ltd and noodle manufacturer Tan Seng Kee Foods Pte Ltd.

It is hoped these events will inspire innovation and collaboration between MNCs and SMEs.

The event heard from Mintel analyst Michelle Teodoro that elderly nutrition, or silver age food, is one emerging topic of interest in the region, owing to the rapidly aging population in countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, China and Singapore.

Because seniors have specific dietary needs, with a different set of requirements in terms of texture, taste and nutrition, guests were told that companies would have to build new capabilities, for example, in specialised nutrition and elderly-friendly packaging.

SPRING believes this fast-growing and largely untapped market offers vast opportunities for Singapore’s food and nutrition industry – especially if businesses can collaborate and share best practices.

“A vibrant food innovation community will ultimately benefit the consumers and bring about products that will improve our lives. I look forward to having more MNCs and local enterprises partner with us in co-creating the Food Innovation Cluster in Singapore”, said Ted Tan, SPRING deputy chief executive.

According to Rama Rajamanickam, vice president, science and innovation at DSM, it’s vital that Singapore leads the development of science-based solutions for the Asian phenotype to improve the nutritional status of the local population.

“DSM has an important role to play to ensure consumers have access to food products that are healthier and relevant to current societal and cultural lifestyles and diets. We are honoured to be the first strategic partner of the Food Innovation Cluster. Singapore is vital as a food and nutrition innovation hub for the region to address nutrition challenges that can impact economical and societal development.”

Later this month there will be another seminar where the new technical reference on guidelines for developing food products that qualify for approved nutrition and health claims will be launched.

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