Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) recently opened a new small-batch food production facility
FoodPlant is Singapore’s first shared facility for small-batch food production to support innovation in the food manufacturing industry, giving access to new processing techniques including ELEA Pulsed Electric Fields Technology. It was jointly launched by the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and JTC Food Hub.
The 1,107 sqm facility gives local companies access to pilot scale equipment, R&D consultancy services and upskilling training courses. FoodPlant is SFA-licensed, meaning any food products manufactured at FoodPlant can go straight to market and sold commercially. Companies can thus trial new products in small batches and sell them to consumers for market testing, allowing for early-stage feedback.
“Its affordable pay-per-use model lowers the barriers to market entry, such as high upfront costs in setting up a manufacturing plant or being charged for minimum order quantities when accessing commercial food processing equipment,” said SIT president Chua Kee Chaing.
The compound is compartmentalised into rooms resourced with different equipment, each fulfilling a function within the food production / processing value chain. In early 2022, Elea has installed a PEF Pilot Dual system in the non-thermal processing room at FoodPlant. The room is also equipped with a freeze dryer, a blast freezer, and a vacuum dryer.
SIT associate professor and FoodPlant chief executive Dr Lim Bee Gim with Elea PEF Pilot Dual system. PHOTO: Singapore Institute of Technology
The Elea PEF Pilot Dual system allows clients to fully explore the potential of Pulsed Electric Field for batch treatment of solids and continuous treatment of liquid products with flexibility in changing the treatment parameters such as field strength, specific energy input and sample size. The system has a capacity in batch mode of up to 10 kg per batch and in continuous mode up to 250 l/h, depending on process.
The first contact with FoodPlant was made via the German Insitute of Food Technologies (DIL e.V.). Kemal Aganovic, Head of the department Advanced Technologies at DIL e.V. was visiting Singapore in 2019. “I had the opportunity to visit FoodPlant shared facility during constructions. At first sight, I have seen the cooperation potential with DIL and the broad range of processing technologies developed there. I am very pleased that Elea´s Pulsed Electric Field technology is completing the technology portfolio at FoodPlant in order to maximize the potential of Singapore’s food innovation.”
FoodPlant is part of ESG’s FoodInnovate initiative to grow Singapore’s food manufacturing industry. Prior to the official launch, it had already secured 17 membership sign-ups by companies and individuals, including Agrocorp International, You Tiao Man and SGProtein.
The facility’s pay-per-use model is on top of membership costs, said SIT. Both members and non-members will be able to use manufacturing equipment, but members will receive a discount and priority booking.
By 2026, the facility is expected to benefit at least 200 food manufacturers in developing at least 400 new food products in response to changing consumer preferences.