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ADM food scientists in the company's new Singapore plant-based innovation lab
ADM food scientists serve samples of plant-based snacks at the opening of the US company's new Singapore lab. Image credit: Business Wire

ADM opens plant-based innovation lab in Singapore

April 23, 2021

US agribusiness major ADM has unveiled a new innovation lab in Singapore targeting the growing appetite for plant-based foods in the Asia-Pacific market.

The lab, situated in the city-state’s Biopolis science park, will develop “next-level, on-trend, and nutritious products,” the company said in a statement.

It will employ protein, flavor, and texturing specialists, who will work on “tailor-made solutions for the Asian consumer palate.” In particular, the facility will experiment with combinations of flavors, textures, fats, and binding properties. On-site forming and freezing capabilities will allow the ADM team to offer smaller-scale sampling so they can test out their creations with consumers and enterprise customers in local markets.

“ADM is a pioneer in plant-based nutrition innovation, and this new facility will enhance our ability to meet rapidly growing consumer demand in the Asia-Pacific region and bring exciting new products and solutions to the market,” said Leo Liu, the company’s Asia-Pacific president.

“Protein continues to be a focus for consumers who are experimenting with plant-based options to meet their health and nutrition, sustainability, and convenience preferences – and with Asia being home to 60% of the world’s population, Singapore is a critical hub of innovation and growth around plant-based alternatives.”

The city-state has arguably become the foremost center of the region’s burgeoning alt-protein industry. In addition to spawning homegrown players such as cell-cultured seafood startup Shiok Meats, plant-based ‘chicken’ maker Next Gen Foods, and cellular milk specialist TurtleTree Labs, Singapore has increasingly been able to attract foreign startups and corporates to its shores.

Agrifoodtech firms are flocking to Singapore, with Perfect Day the latest to land – read more here

Last October, US-based Eat Just said it will pump a total of $100 million alongside investment firm Proterra to build “Asia’s first plant-based protein factory” in Singapore. Later in the year, the city-state handed Eat Just the world’s first regulatory approval for a cell-cultured meat product, clearing its ‘lab-grown’ chicken bites for sale to the public. And just this week, Eat Just partnered with delivery app Foodpanda so that Singaporean consumers can be the first in the world to order dishes featuring its cell-based chicken to their doorsteps.

In December, US-based Perfect Day – which cultures cow’s milk using fungi – agreed to set up a Singapore R&D facility in collaboration with the country’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR); while earlier last year, Swiss food industry giants Bühler and Givaudan announced the launch of a joint innovation center in Singapore to explore textures and tastes for plant-based protein products.

Another alt-dairy firm, Sweden’s Oatly, announced earlier this month that it plans to establish a $22 million production facility in Singapore alongside local beverage maker Yeo’s. The factory will initially produce an estimated 60 million liters of oat-based milk per year, most of which will go to the promising China market. Oatly formally filed for its $10 billion New York IPO earlier this week, saying that it could seek another listing in Hong Kong if US public company status had a “material adverse effect” on its shareholders – which include a Chinese state-owned enterprise – or if it generated more than 25% of its revenue from the Asia-Pacific region for two consecutive fiscal quarters.

Chicago-based ADM said it employs more than 3,000 people in 50 locations across the Asia-Pacific region, and owns a minority stake in Singaporean agribusiness company Wilmar International.

“The opening of this innovation lab [in Singapore] demonstrates our continued investment in plant-based protein and our commitment to finding new ways to solve the challenges of changing consumer taste and preferences, not only in Asia-Pacific, but also around the world,” said Marie Wright, chief global flavorist at ADM.

“The lab will help us capture key insight and learnings to help drive exciting new solutions for the Asian market, but also help us better serve customers around the world looking to incorporate Asian flavors and preferences into their latest plant-based food and beverage innovations.”

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