Singapore is a food paradise renowned throughout the world, and in an advanced think-tank cum cook-pot of innovation in Singapore Polytechnic, new advances in food manufacturing technology are helping to lift this reputation even higher.
The Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC) in SP is home to a team of skilled staff who use a wide variety of cutting-edge technologies to help create and test new food products
Ms Ngan-Loong Mann Na is a Director at the Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC) in SP, where she constantly works together with a dedicated team to innovate new food manufacturing ‘recipes’.
The centre is a joint initiative between SPRING Singapore and SP. It was established to help small and medium enterprises create and test new products. Boasting test and development kitchens, sensory booths, pilot plants and a range of laboratories, FIRC delivers a host of comprehensive services, including consultancy, equipment for lease, training and advisory support.
The services offered are designed to assist food enterprises in developing innovative food products to meet the changing demands of consumers, which will give sustainable competitive advantage to the company.
Since it started out in 2007,the FIRC team has helped more than 400 food enterprises dish out delicious new offerings that have added even more flavour to Singapore’s reputation as the ultimate food paradise.
The FIRC team provides the technical expertise necessary to turn concepts into reality
“By providing technical expertise in new product and process development, including packaging, shelf life evaluation and market testing, and with new initiatives constantly being formed, the FIRC team hopes to work closely with food enterprises and fulfil our tagline of bringing food concepts to reality,” says Ms Ngan-Loong.
FIRC is also responsible for food creations with a unique focus.
For example, it helped food company Manna SOFTfood co-develop its flagship soft bread product, which caters to specific healthcare needs.
“This product was developed to address swallowing and chewing difficulties faced by consumers due to ageing, illness or other conditions. The soft bread was specially formulated to achieve a texture that is delicately soft and easily scooped up by a spoon in small pieces, which further facilitates consumption since it is easier to eat from a spoon than to bite into a bun,” says Ms Ngan-Loong.
She further shares that food innovation also involves “creating a new trend or need that changes consumer’s perceptions, or even lifestyle.”
One case in point is how food company Poli Medical Company
Pte Ltd engaged FIRC to develop products that have the best of east and west by combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with western ingredients to formulate health supplements. This led to the creation of two products that the company now sells: Trulife Lingzhi Immunity and Trulife Berry Eyehealth (made with wolfberries).
“Trulife Lingzhi Immunity is for times when you feel frazzled by hectic schedules or wish to improve your general well-being, while Trulife Berry Eyehealth helps to promote better blood circulation and eyesight,” says Ms Ngan-Loong.
As if all these were not enough, it’s impressive to know that FIRC has also co-developed with the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) a new technique for prolonging the life span of a bread product. Aptly called “Long Shelf-life Bread”, the intent was to design a food product that could be used during national emergencies such as pandemic outbreaks, natural disasters or war. This product, which has a shelf life of about six months, received a commendation award for Home Team Product Innovation in 2012.
Fancy a Taste of SP?
The FIRC team has put together a list of recommended FIRC treats you can enjoy. Why not make a picnic out of it and feast on these mouth-watering delights in one of SP’s lush garden grounds!
A picnic basket of treats highly recommended by the FIRC team
Less Sugar Nonya Kaya Spread (Glory Food Products)
Kaya, otherwise also known as coconut jam, is an irresistible staple of the quintessential Singapore breakfast or snack. Spread over bread, it adds a sublime richness of taste that tantalises our taste buds to no end. Yet, the much-beloved kaya is sometimes seen as rather unhealthy. Thankfully, FIRC came up with a delicious solution. To help us all enjoy kaya’s yummy goodness guilt-free, FIRC jointly developed Less Sugar Nonya Kaya Spread with Glory Food Products. It’s high fibre and trans-fat free, and also has 25% less sugar, fats and cholesterol than the regular spread. It even meets the national Healthier Choice Symbol guidelines. Most importantly, it’s still really yummy!
Buckwheat Green Tea (Buckwheat Healthcare Products)
To help you wash down your food, take a refreshing swig of Buckwheat Green Tea. By itself, green tea is full of antioxidants and is a wonderful way to cool down in Singapore’s tropical weather, and the addition of buckwheat means this drink has even more health-boosting benefits. Yet, FIRC didn’t stop there when co-developing this bevy-of-goodness beverage – Buckwheat Green Tea also contains inulin, a soluble fibre which promotes a stronger digestive system. Refreshing, nourishing and hydrating, this is truly a great go-to drink whenever thirst strikes.
Reduced Sugar Bird’s Nest (Kim Hing Food Industries)
Tradition meets innovation in this culinary concoction for Kim Hing Food Industries. The precious delicacy of Bird’s Nest, widely believed to have multifarious medical and nutritional properties, is a tonic dating back to ancient China, and is still as revered today. FIRC helped Kim Hing Food Industries develop a reduced sugar version of its popular bottled bird’s nest, and they’ve been flying off shelves ever since!
Instant Nutritious Soya Cereal Drink (Unifood International)
We have so much on our plates in life that we sometimes don’t have time to eat properly. Good thing the folks at FIRC helped to come up with Instant Nutritious Soya Cereal Drink for Unifood International. It’s a nutritious instant beverage made using only 100% organic soya beans that is low in calories, cholesterol-free and high in fibre. So however busy you may be, just add water for a quick, tasty, and healthy fill-up! Be sure to keep a sachet handy.
Singapore Sling Ready-to-Drink Cocktail (True Heritage Brew)
Ms Ngan-Loong ranks this as her personal favourite FIRC creation. The iconic Singapore Sling used to only be available from the barman. That’s before FIRC raised the bar together with True Heritage Brew. In collaboration, they developed the iconic Singapore Sling in a ready-to-drink bottled form – anyone could now crack open a bottle to enjoy Singapore’s signature cocktail. And, the drink made its debut at no less than Singapore’s inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix, where it was very well received. Try it for yourself, but… rated M18, please!