The virtual ASEAN Nutritious Food and Functional Beverage Technology Summit, hosted by Ringier Events and sponsored by Siemens Digital Industries Software, was another opportunity for F&B companies to gain new insights from the chairpersons of the Indonesian Nutrition Association (INA), the Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (GAPMMI), the Hong Kong Food Professionals Association (HKFPA), as well as from PT Kalbe Farma Tbk, a pharmaceutical, healthcare and nutrition company in Jakarta, and Big Idea Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in future food technologies related to alternative proteins. The conference held on February 5, 2021 gathered over 135 attendees from Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, among others.
As Southeast Asia's largest market, Indonesia has become a focus of Ringier events, and the GAPMMI, a close partner and supporter of Ringier's F&B related conferences. In new developments, the Indonesian government has implemented guidelines for the food and beverage industry in the wake of the pandemic. GAPMMI has been cooperating with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Industry in creating health and safety protocols and best practices for companies to conduct in their facilities and entire production, (from material handling, processing, QC, final product handling, to waste management). With the guidelines and procedures in place for the new normal, companies are also likely to advance faster as they prepare themselves for farsighted government initiatives such as the Making Indonesia 4.0 and Indonesia's Vision 2045.
The food and beverage industry is among the sectors chosen for the Making Indonesia 4.0, a government programme established in 2018 with the aim to drive the country's global competitiveness. Doing well despite the pandemic, the F&B sector recorded a growth of 1.6% in 2020. Also last year, exports amounted to USD 31,085.9 billion, compared to 2019 which was at USD 27,234.3 billion. Meanwhile, the Indonesia's Vision 2045 estimates the country's population to reach 319 million and GDP per capita to be at 23.199 (it was at 4.175 in 2019). The F&B sector is expected to perform better in order to meet growing consumption. These were all in the report by GAPMMI chairman, Adhi Lukman, during the Summit. The chairman was also optimistic that this year the local food industry will grow at about 5-7%.
Adhi Lukman, Chairman, Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (GAPMMI)
In 2020, the global food industry saw new difficulties resulting from broken supply chains, and this has been even tougher for countries like Indonesia which is a huge archipelago. For this reason, Mr Lukman did a presentation on how manufacturing teams can support the supply chain functioning within the company. He said, Indonesia's geography remains a challenge for the food supply chain, production, and even consumption. The food supply chain can be made more efficient if manufacturing and logistics continue to be technology-driven. Several big F&B companies are already adopting Industry 4.0 to increase their efficiency, investing in automation and robotics in production lines not only for productivity but to reduce human-to-human contact and maintain safety during this current health crisis.
Indonesia has been collaborating with providers from countries like Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand for technologies that will help move the country's logistics and infrastructure, and cyber security forward. But according to Mr Lukman, the country needs more tech providers to achieve the country's goal.
Benedict Lim, Director for Digital Transformation Consumer Products & Retail, Southeast Asia
In line with the topic on creating better supply chains, Siemens Digital Industries Software presented on solutions. Benedict Lim, Director for Digital Transformation Consumer Products & Retail, Southeast Asia, delivered a presentation titled, "Traceability & Insights with a Connected Supply Chain" in which he addressed such major issues as those mentioned by Chairman Lukman, and also explained the digital tools that are helping more and more manufacturers manage their end-to-end processes cost-effectively. The company also shared a case study regarding digitalisation of China's dairy industry, with China Mengniu Dairy Company paving the way for change.
Robotic taste buds
For her presentation, Ms Carmen Man- Ka Mun, the chairperson of the Hong Kong Food Professionals Association (HKFPA) talked about using “robotic taste buds” in developing or reformulating a food or beverage. While human sensory evaluations and blind taste tests are still the common practice, the electronic taste system or electronic tongue can take the place of these tests to provide more accurate results. She pointed out the limitations of sensory analysis one of which is that human taste is subjective and changing. Moreover, the pandemic has also posed a challenge to conducting human sensory evaluation.
Ms Carmen Man- Ka Mun, chairperson, Hong Kong Food Professionals Association
The electronic tongue is effective because it uses collected data from consumers. It can provide manufacturers with data for a particular consumer type they need. Having this information helps them formulate products that match the taste of their target consumer. Production and processing stages can also be minimised. The data from the electronic robot is also compared to human data for future sensory taste standard for specific consumers.
The electronic tongue is popularly used in Japan and China, according to Ms Carmen, and soon HKFPA will be the first in Hong Kong to utilise it. With government assistance, the HKFPA is looking to invest in this technology for use by the food science community at the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong where Ms Carmen is also a full-time lecturer.
Innovating healthier food
It is widely known that Southeast Asia has a long-standing battle with over and under nutrition. And yet, most food and beverage products being sold are heavy with sugar, sodium, fat, and ingredients and chemicals. For this topic, the Dr Yunawati Gandasasmita, Msc, head of Corp RA Nutrition & Beverage PT Kalbe Farma Tbk, gave an overview of obesity and its social and health risks. She pointed out the Malaysia, Brunei, and Thailand have the highest prevalence of obesity in the region. Vietnam which had the highest prevalence between 2010-2014, was able to curb its obesity rate, and currently has the lowest prevalence in Southeast Asia. It is followed by Cambodia and Lao.
Yunawati Gandasasmita, Msc, Head, Corp RA Nutrition & Beverage PT Kalbe Farma Tbk
Dr Yunawati's talk aimed to answer questions on how to develop functional food, and how to innovate based on three factors: knowing what the consumer wants or needs, what technology is available to produce it (for instance considering functionality and palatability), and knowledge of competition. The presentation also explained how to design healthy food, the importance of having health claims, and the need to educate consumers as well.
The ABCs of health claims
Health claims boost the credibility of functional products. But how easy is it for manufacturers to have claims approved? Prof. Dr. Saptawati Bardosono, MSc, who is currently the Secretary General of the Indonesian Nutrition Association (INA) presented on the importance of inclusion of evidence-based nutrition science in food manufacturing.
Prof. Dr. Saptawati Bardosono, MSc, Secretary General, Indonesian Nutrition Association
“The practice of evidence-based nutrition involves using the best available nutrition evidence, together with clinical experience, to conscientiously work with patients' values and preferences, to help them prevent (sometimes), resolve (sometimes), or cope with (often), problems related to their physical, mental, and social health,” quoted Prof Saptawati. She summarised the process and the challenges of obtaining health claims, as well as explained the principles of evidence-based nutrition, to help manufacturers understand the subject.
Matthew Zhao, Chief Food Scientist, Big Idea Ventures
Plant-based: Thriving in Asia
Among healthy food trends, plant-based food production is gaining momentum in Asia. For this reason, Ringier invited Big Idea Ventures' chief food scientist, Matthew Zhao to share the latest developments in the alternative proteins space. Mr Zhao has extensive knowledge in post-harvest technology, food packaging and processing, and shelf-life evaluation.
At Big Idea Ventures, Mr Zhao has been helping companies adopt new solutions and processes to commercialize their products with value-added functional properties.
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