About 1,300 food companies have embarked on productivity upgrading projects, including workflow redesign and workforce upgrading through training, according to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
Speaking at the Food Productivity Conference 2014 on Monday (Oct 27) morning, Mr Gan also said that more than 4,000 CEOs, productivity managers and workers have undergone training since 2011.
The Food Services Productivity Plan was launched in 2011 in a bid to increase the productivity of the food services sector with a budget of S$75 million.
During his speech, he outlined how food companies have improved their operations through innovation, collaboration, technology and people. For example, the Restaurant Association of Singapore, Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association and Singapore Manufacturing Federation have collaborated to help more than 50 restaurants find suitable food manufacturers to outsource the preparation of their non-core food items.
Mr Gan said this multi-party collaboration has resulted in time and cost savings for both restaurants and food manufacturers.
He also urged companies to take the initiative to implement their own productivity improvements, and said the government remains committed to supporting the food industry in its restructuring efforts.
Mr Gan highlighted Eng Soon Dry Bean Curd and local cafeteria Food Glossary. Eng Soon Dry Bean Curd uses robotic arms to increase its efficiency, while Food Glossary uses technology to let customers order and pay.
Food Glossary's Productivity Initiative
Having customers order and pay for meals online has helped the 400-seat cafe Food Glossary save on manpower costs. With only 10 employees, it relies on self-service through mobile apps and digital kiosks to handle large volumes of orders. Without this technology, Food Glossary would have to double its staff, setting them back an additional S$30,000 a month.
"We had to look at new concepts where it didn't require a lot of manpower," said the Director of Food Glossary, Andrew Khoo. "So in creating this concept, we thought let's look at bringing in technology. Let's look at bringing in things that can help us, in terms of process and process flow."
Outsourcing Helps Increase Productivity
With the food industry facing the challenge of a manpower crunch, industry players say the adoption of technology not only improves productivity but also attracts locals as it makes their work environment more conducive.
The Restaurant Association of Singapore also said, other than technology, outsourcing also helps to increase productivity.
"Many food manufacturers, they have got much more advanced food machinery than restaurants," said Andrew Tjioe, President of the Restaurant Association of Singapore. "They are bigger, they are more efficient. So if we can outsource to them, we will try as much as possible."