Future Food Asia 2021: Two winners take home $100,000 each

© Future Food Asia

Agrifood startups, corporations and investors urged to collaborate and take action, tackling challenges in nutrition and climate change

This year’s Future Food Asia Award has gone to two winners. Hong Kong-based Senior Deli, which makes food texture modifiers for the elderly with swallowing difficulties, and Allozymes, a Singapore startup developing a new method for engineering and screening enzymes for industrial applications, took home $100,000 each when they were declared co-winners on the last day of the conference yesterday.

Senior Deli and Allozymes were selected from a group of 10 finalists, all of which pitched over the course of the five-day conference. The finalists were chosen by a jury comprising Isabelle Decitre, CEO and founder of conference organizer ID Capital, Ralph Graichen, Senior Director of Food and Consumer Cluster at the A*STAR Biomedical Research Council, Xiuling Guo, MD of Cargill Global Edible Oil Solutions Asia and Francesca Kleemans, MD of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Asia. 

Guo praised Senior Deli for its simple yet high-impact innovation, as well as the team’s passion for solving an important issue for the elderly. “Innovations don’t always have to come from deep science. They need to be meaningful and produce a major social impact,” she said. Senior Deli’s products, which include ready-to-eat soft meals and a range of food texture modifiers, are in use in more than 100 nursing homes with the support of local governments and investors.

Graichen highlighted how Allozymes’ innovation could boost efficiency in the biotechnology industry, as screening new enzyme candidates can be laborious and time-consuming. By using customized enzymes, manufacturers can achieve increased productivity while reducing natural inputs. For example, a lab-engineered enzyme can replicate the taste of fish, allowing alternative protein sources to replace fishmeal in the shrimp feed industry.

“Demand for sustainable ingredients in the biotech industry is growing significantly, and [Allozymes] is in a position to contribute to the field,” Graichen said.   

Time for action

After congratulating the prize winners, Decitre closed the 5th edition of the Future Food Asia conference with a call to bring a more sustainable future into reality. “We live in exciting times, and for all of us living in a privileged environment with access to knowledge, ideas and innovations, I wish it to be a time of action,” she said.

Decitre thanked all conference partners, including Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the Economic Development Board (EDB), for their support, noting how these organizations have encouraged and catalyzed innovations in agrifood tech.

Innovations don’t always have to come from deep science

Aside from the Future Food Asia Award, two other awards were presented by Thai Wah and Cargill. Thai Wah’s Circular Bioeconomy award went to Re:Harvest, which is turning beer brewing waste into flour and Mi Terro, which processes waste from dairy manufacturing into eco-friendly fabric products.

Meanwhile, Cargill’s Health Through Nutrition prize was awarded to Singapore startup ProfilePrint, which has developed a system combining sensor technology and SaaS platform to scan food ingredients and analyze their taste and nutrition profiles, allowing manufacturers to find the right ingredients for their next product.

Agrifoodtech 2.0

Over the course of the conference, industry giants shared the stage with regional startups, research organizations, and nonprofits to share the latest trends and innovations. New technologies and business models, such as a Robotics-as-a-Service concept for poultry farm monitoring by Irish startup Iamus and iCell’s microbe-powered water treatment technology for industrial fish farms, were introduced to the audience.

Both startups and major agribusinesses agreed that alternative proteins, including plant-based meat analogues and cell-cultured meat, have great market potential. Henry Soesanto, CEO of Philippine-based food conglomerate Monde Nissin, said the industry is worth $1.4tn today. Monde Nissin, which completed its IPO in the Philippine Stock Exchange at the end of May, owns the global plant-based protein food brand Quorn.

In a fireside chat on Friday June 11, Marcel Smits, Chairman of Cargill Asia Pacific, urged global agribusinesses to recognize and support the potential of new technologies and lifestyles that lead to more sustainable outcomes. Encouraging a forward-looking attitude, Smits said: “The distribution of resources should be a reflection of where the business is going to be five years from now, rather than a reflection of where the business was five years ago.”

Speakers also discussed the challenges in measuring and reporting impact. Barbara Guerpillon, Head of Ventures at Dole Sunshine, said on Wednesday June 9 that while the various impact standards, goals and measures are interlinked, they can also be confusing. Startups, investors and major corporations alike need to be consistent in their measurements, she added.

CompassList is an official media partner of Future Food Asia 2021

Edited by Selva Kumar

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