Alternative-protein company Perfect Day has signed an agreement with Singapore’s Agency of Science, Technology, and Research (A*Star) to build out a research and development lab in the city-state, according to an article today from The Straits Times.
The facility, slated to open in April 2021, will be used to further develop Perfect Day’s processes for its flora-based dairy products that are made via yeast-fermentation and include items like ice cream, cheese, and milk. According to a statement from Perfect Day, the joint lab with A*Star will focus on “developing analytical systems that will be critical for ensuring the accuracy, specificity, and consistency of Perfect Day’s fermentation processes and protein ingredients.”
The added R&D efforts will aid San Francisco Bay Area-based Perfect Day’s global production. But Perfect Day also said it would hire and train researchers, scientists, and engineers in Singapore to further the local development of the company’s microflora protein. Perfect Day cofounder Perumal Gandhi told The Straights Times that its Singapore workforce “will be about 10 per cent of its headcount in the near term.”
Singapore makes for an obvious choice when it comes to further developing the possibilities of alternative protein. Until now, the city-state has historically imported 90 percent of its food supplies. That changed when the pandemic threw a big glaring light on the inherent precariousness of the global food supply chain. Over the last year Singapore’s government has been pumping millions into food tech innovation as part of its 30×30 initiative, which aims to get 30 percent of all Singapore’s food produced locally by 2030.
Those factors mean the city-state is a welcoming environment when it comes to new ideas about where to get our protein sources outside of the animal. And since so much of Singapore’s food supplies have to date been imported, there is less pushback from established Big Meat and Big Dairy companies and, theoretically at least, fewer constraints to pass through before a company is able to get regulatory approval.
Another alt-protein company, Eat Just, echoed those points over the weekend when it made the world’s first-ever sale of a cultured meat product at a restaurant in Singapore this past weekend (after getting the world’s first regulatory approval for cultured meat). The company has also, with Proterra, said it would invest $100 million into a plant-based protein factory in Singapore. Earlier in 2020, Swiss companies Buhler and Givaudan announced a joint “innovation center” for plant-based foods. Meanwhile, local player Shiok Meats is building a commercial pilot plant.
As the above company names suggest, the bulk of the activity around alt-protein so far in Singapore has been on meat products. Perfect Day’s forthcoming facility should pave the way for other alt-dairy focused companies to also establish a presence in Singapore, furthering global innovation in the process.