In January 2019, food and beverage company F&N and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) announced the launch of their F&N-NTU F&B Innovation Lab. The joint laboratory will explore the commercial potential of various solutions to counter food wastage over the next four years.
As part of its 2016 Food Manufacturing Industry Transformation Map. Singapore had envisioned becoming the leading food and nutrition hub in Asia with globally-competitive food companies.
NTU president Professor Subra Suresh pointed out that “traditional food processing technology mainly targets the storage and transportation aspects of F&B products, but does not adequately address the large amount of food waste that arises from manufacturing processes”.
According to the National Environment Agency, the amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by about 40% over the past decade. There were over 800,000 tons of food waste in 2017 alone, of which only 16% was recycled.
Located in NTU’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, the lab will leverage on the university’s current research capabilities and come under NTU’s Food Science and Technology programme. The research projects will be funded by F&N and involve about 30 researchers from NTU and F&N’s research and development department, as well as students from the university’s programme.
This will be F&N’s first long-term joint research partnership with an academic institution, and the company’s Chief Executive of Non-alcoholic Beverages, Lee Meng Tat, said “this partnership offers us the opportunity to tap NTU’s strengths in research excellence as well as its cutting-edge facilities to enhance innovation”. He added that this collaboration is “in line with our commitment to deliver sustainable business practices, our collaboration with NTU will see the furthering of our green efforts as well as catering to the health and nutritional needs of our consumers”.
Innovations to be explored include new methods to prolong the shelf life of food produce and recycling food waste into biodegradable food packaging.
In addition, Director of NTU’s Food Science and Technology programme, Professor William Chen, said “the lab will look at sustainable ways to incorporate micronutrients that are produced as a by-product of the fermentation process into F&N products to enhance their nutritional value”. However, he warned that it can take up to five years for innovations in the lab to be applied to food products at a commercial level.
Source: The Straits Times