Future food industry trends in Singapore

Future food industry trends in Singapore

The food and beverage industry is one of the biggest sectors in Singapore, and highly creative entrepreneurs are innovating new ideas constantly. The power is still firmly in the hands of consumers, a growing trend globally, and food companies should continue to be very attuned to their needs. It's likely that consumer's concern for healthy foods will increase in the next few years, as well as a desire for ethically produced food - both of which increase the demand for plastic-free products and farm-to-fork ingredients. Consumers also prefer restaurants with smaller menus that focus on a few signature dishes, along with companies that have a strong online presence, so that food can be ordered at the click of a button from an app or website and delivered to your door.

Health and wellness

The consumer focus on health and wellness and the desire for healthy products is likely to grow in the next few years. In particular, non-alcoholic drinks, like kombucha and agua fresca, are increasingly popular as customers focus on improving their gut microbiome and taking care of their health. Restaurants would do well to focus on this trend, and as well as matching alcoholic drinks to menu items, there is an opportunity to provide complimentary mocktails and alcohol-free drinks to attract customers. Consumers are also demanding ethical products and plant-based proteins, with veganism and clean eating still a steadily increasing trend. Generation Z want transparency and to understand where food is made and what it's made from, so clear labelling is a good focus to have.

Plastic-free and zero-waste

Consumers have a heightened awareness of the importance of biodegradable packaging and its impact on our environment, so a trend that will continue is the plastic-free, zero-waste movement. People demand products that minimize packaging and innovations that address this need are sure to flourish. Restaurants can offer plastic-free straws, such as metal or bamboo items, and present food in biodegradable packaging, made of cornstarch and compostable forms of plastic. Operating a food and beverage business from an environmentally friendly standpoint will create a good reputation and increase customer interest, especially from Generation Z and Millennial consumers.


In Singapore and all over the world, consumers are increasing their demand for locally sourced products. The farm-to-table movement promotes ingredients grown within a small radius of the consumer, and in Singapore includes products produced island-wide, offshore and in Malaysia. The increase in farm tourism in the Kranji area and desire to educate children on the importance of organic produce shows consumers interest in buying locally grown food from ethical farms. Restaurants can promote ingredients sourced locally, which will increase interest from a range of different customers and also support the city's economy and livelihood of local farmers.

Smaller menus

Many customers prefer restaurants that have signature dishes, and are willing to go out of their way to try them. In a world where increasingly people are bombarded with information and infinite choice, consumers naturally favour this decision being made easier for them, and will pick restaurants with trimmed down menus that sell a few dishes that the venue has perfected. This is also beneficial to the food and beverage establishment as they are able to cut running costs by reducing the amount of ingredients purchased, and are better able to estimate supplies needed. Having a smaller menus allows customers to pick a favourite dish, which makes them more likely to return multiple times.

Online presence

In 2018, the e-commerce trend really hit the food and beverage industry, and this is set to increase further in the years to come. Apps are an excellent way to grow your customer base, as online retail enables you to reach a wider market. Even though demand for fast food and restaurant deliveries is increasing thanks to apps like FoodPanda, Uber Eats, HonestBee and Deliveroo, this doesn't mean brick-and-mortar stores have to miss out, as any business can easily make the switch online, either hosting themselves on one of the apps above or by creating their own, or creating a payment system on their website. Digital forms of payment also decrease labour costs and time spent processing payments on the companies end.

Up and coming Singaporean women in business

Up and coming Singaporean women in business

Due to the government's grants, the high number of international investors and a series of high-tech co-working spaces and business schools around the city, Singapore has proved itself a great location for would-be entrepreneurs and up-and-coming startups. In particular, the island is renowned for its fertile environment which nurtures female entrepreneurs, ranking third in the Asia-Pacific region. Here are some of the boundary pushing women who are building an exciting startup ecosystem in Singapore and opening doors for the next generation of creative leaders.

Rachel Lim & Velda Tan

Shopping mall favourite and online success Love, Bonito was originally founded as BonitoChico at the humble age of 18 by best friends Rachel Lim and Velda Tan. Starting off as a blogshop, a small retail business hosted on platforms like Livejournal, this unique Singaporean endeavor (popular with teenagers in the 00s due to its low startup costs) was skillfully transformed into a popular retail chain. Now, the duo have 16 stores across the city and the region - with branches in Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. They've also gone on to lend their magic touch to other endeavours - Velda launched a food and beverage business, lobster bar Pince & Pints, with her husband Frederick Yap in 2014, and then founded two different womenswear labels, Collate The Label and Our Second Nature.

Lyn Lee

Those with a sweet tooth will be familiar with popular food and beverage store Awfully Chocolate. Now with 15 outlets in Singapore and more in China's biggest cities, the brand has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Former lawyer Lyn Lee opened her first cake shop, a small outlet in Katong, in 1998, aided by a group of friends and spurred on by her desire to find a simple but perfect dark chocolate cake in the city. After months spent melting chocolate and experimenting in her kitchen, she nailed the perfect recipe and set up her first store, bringing customers on pilgrimages from across the island. Now, the brand has grown its repertoire while focusing on sinful chocolate goodies, and also opened cafes Ninethirty - focusing on comforting savoury food and their famous desserts - and cosy cafe Sinpopo, for those who want a relaxed place to meet friends for a sweet treat and drink.

Cynthia Chua

Many of Singapore's most iconic brands owe their success to the vision of the CEO of the Spa Esprit group, Cynthia Chua. From beauty and lifestyle stores to food and beverage outlets, Cynthia developed the umbrella company from a small office in Holland Village in the late 1990s, having worked previously in the banking and property industries. Since then, the group has developed and managed many quirky local brands, from cafe favourites Tiong Bahru Bakery, 40 Hands and Common Man Coffee Roasters, to farm and community centre Open Farm Community. Most impressive are her global grooming brands Browhaus and Strip, which now have outlets in major cities across the globe, from London to Mumbai.

Krystal Choo

There are few female entrepreneurs as inspiring as Krystal Choo, who started as a self-taught coder at the age of 15, designing websites, and moved onto the helm of numerous successful businesses, including two travel businesses - Wander, a travel app for singles, and ZipTrip, a travel organisation app. Her latest work is on Tickle, an incredible venture that's motivated by her desire to dispel loneliness and create connections in Singaporean society. This was motivated by her own experiences of depression and her observations of how social media perpetuated this, which inspired her to conceive of a technology that did the opposite - fostering real human connection by organising community-driven experiences.

Dr Ayesha Khanna (in photo)

Multi-talented entrepreneur Dr Ayesha Khanna has grown both for-profit and community-driven businesses in Singapore. Moving to Singapore in 2012, Ayesha was born in Pakistan and educated at Harvard University, and since moving to the city has set up Addo AI, a highly successful artificial intelligence firm used by high-profile clients like SMRT and SingTel. She has also founded a ground-breaking charity, 21C Girls, a non-profit venture that provides free training to girls in Singapore, creating the next generation of coders, artificial intelligence experts and businesswomen.

Pinterest opens Singapore office

Pinterest opens Singapore office

After continued growth in the Asia-Pacific market, American company Pinterest have opened a new office in Singapore. This complements their existing Asian office in Tokyo, Japan, which was opened in 2013. Pinterest's head office is located in San Francisco, but with millions of people using their services, it was important to them to locate staff within their Southeast Asia market. The office in Singapore, headed by Ayumi Nakajima, will manage their work in Southeast Asia, namely Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, and India, two areas with huge amounts of recent growth.

Pinterest's product is a social media platform available on the web and on mobile applications, which enables users to ‘pin' - save and organise images from the internet. Aiming to create a ‘catalogue of ideas' and to provide users with lifestyle inspiration, the company has been a huge hit and has users all over the globe. In particular, their market in Asia-Pacific has more than doubled since 2018, with more than seven million different ‘pins' each day from the region alone. In particular, the company's data show that users in Singapore, India, Indonesia and the Philippines are fans of travel, fashion, food and home decor, and the company noted that ‘Durian recipes' and ‘Indonesian holidays' were two of the top growers in search terms in Singapore during the past year.

The company wants to provide a more localized experience for users, and this is why it decided to open offices globally, so that they can best understand the needs of each market. Nakajima will head a small team of Singaporean talent, currently of less than 10 employees, that will primarily build relationships with local brands and publishers. In the future, the office is set to grow, with more local talent to join the team. Already, the team has been working with local influential brands like Vogue India and Tastemade and Femina Magazine in Indonesia, and this list of local publishers is due to grow even longer in the years to come.

In 2018, Pinterest launched a partnership with MasakTV in Indonesia, with a six-week TV campaign taking place at the end of festival Ramadan, encouraging viewers to use Pinterest to save recipes for inspiration for breaking their fast. This campaign increased the viewership of MasakTV by more than 50% during the time it was running, showing just how powerful advertising on the platform can be for brands, particularly those who want to attract a female millennial and Generation Z audience. Pinterest generates revenue from the advertisements featured on the platform, and so their new base in Southeast Asia will allow them to best tailor these to their user-base. In recent years, Pinterest have also been adding local languages to their service, with language options including Hindi being rolled out on the platform in 2014, localising their product for the Indian market and others internationally.

This new move comes around three months after Pinterest debuted at the New York Stock Exchange, one of the latest tech companies to open its shares up to the public nine years after being founded in 2010. In the first quarter since it opened itself up as a public company, shares dropped by 19%, due to sales guidance and adjusted loss per share running short. In 2018, the company reported revenue of US$756 million, but with losses of US$63 million. However, with its carefully calculated decisions in 2019, this may be set to recover. International growth is one of the top priorities of the company. The office's lead, country manager for India and Southeast Asia, Ayumi Nakajima, has achieved much since she joined Pinterest in 2015, working from their Tokyo and London offices. Previous to this she had roles with Facebook and Nielsen.

The new office will be located in the centrally located and trendy Telok Ayer area, the perfect place to attract a talented group of local creatives, marketers and innovators to the company in the near future.

Dyson considers opening tech campus in Singapore

Dyson considers opening tech campus in Singapore

The government's focus on developing Singapore into a Smart Tech nation has not escaped the attention of many multinational technology brands. One of the latest announcements from a global company with its eye on the fertile ecosystem of the city is UK appliances innovator Dyson, who are considering founding their first university outside of the UK in Singapore.

This comes after significant interest from the company, who announced in 2018 that they are going to open a manufacturing plant in Jurong, and in early 2019 decided to move their head office to the high tech island too. Founder James Dyson made international headlines this year after purchasing an extravagant penthouse in trendy Tanjong Pagar, in order to be closer to his award-winning companies headquarters. The city-state caught Dyson's eye as the ideal location for testing out and developing their first electric car, which is set to be released in 2021.

The company is now considering making use of the potential technical talent in Singapore - the many budding engineers, innovators and creatives - by founding a private university in the city-state. They hope to seek degree-giving status from the UK government, which would see it join the ranks of six private universities in the United Kingdom - many of which have sprung up in recent years.

Previously, the company funded an institute in collaboration with Warwick University in Wiltshire, where students could train towards a degree in engineering, while being paid a salary and gaining practical skills at the same time, under the mentorship of Dyson's engineers. The global brand provided more than £15 million in funding for this flagship Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the four-year program launched in 2017, providing training to 33 students, out of 850 eager applicants.

Sir James Dyson described his motivation for funding this institute as stemming from a need for highly skilled engineers in the UK, and that he wanted to help people to gain new skills and graduate debt-free, whether they wanted to work for Dyson or were motivated to start their own businesses - something that would make the engineering research and development scene even more fertile for new innovations and ideas. Dyson's plan for a new university is part of a plan to grow the engineering industry in the Asia-Pacific region too.

If Dyson is awarded degree-giving powers for its new Singaporean institute, locals may be able to expect a similar scheme. Already, Singapore is due to be home to the Dyson-NTU Studio, the British company's first campus engineering studio in Asia. This is run with Nanyang Technological University, and is focused on new research and development (R&D), with students of all levels able to access unique prototyping equipment and technology used by the company, and ample support from industry experts to bring their ideas to life. It will simulate working at Dyson, so that the company can recruit high-quality graduates.

Dyson already has over 1,000 employees in Singapore, who work from their offices at the Singapore Technology Centre at the Singapore Science Park. They are aiming to create a new engineering centre at their offices here, and to increase their engineering team by 50% over the next few years. In order to do this, they have their eye on some of the high-quality engineering graduates who call the city home, aiming to hire 190 new engineers over the next five years.

The decision for Dyson to move to Asia may be a result of the company's high growth levels in the Asia-Pacific region. More than half of Dyson's £1.1 billion annual profit is generated from Asia, and this has increased by 30% in 2018 compared to the year before. They may also be spurred on by Singapore's unique focus on smart tech, with the government eagerly fostering new research and development, industry growth and collaborating with the private sector, as well as the large pool of talented young graduates, which could ensure Dyson's success for years to come.