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Road map to restructure food services industry rolled out

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A BLUEPRINT to steer growth in the food services industry through the adoption of innovative business models and technology has been mapped out.

A BLUEPRINT to steer growth in the food services industry through the adoption of innovative business models and technology has been mapped out.

The Food Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM), the first of 23 industry-specific road maps, was launched on Thursday by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

"We must develop a food services industry that is highly efficient, with no loss in quality of food offerings, and with high-quality jobs," said Mr Tharman. "It has to be a major makeover."

He was speaking at the unveiling of restaurant chain Select Group's corporate headquarters at Senoko South Road and the launch of the ITM.

The ITM is part of the larger S$4.5 billion Industry Transformation Programme announced earlier in this year's Budget.

"With an ageing workforce and changing career aspirations among younger workers, the critical issues facing the (food services) industry are those of raising productivity and reducing reliance on manpower," enterprise development agency Spring Singapore said in a release.

The food services industry contributes to 0.8 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product, Spring said. Yet, the industry employs some 160,000 workers - a "disproportionate" 4.5 per cent of the workforce.

To help businesses here reduce their continued reliance on manpower, the ITM will work towards the achievement of an annual productivity growth target of 2 per cent without any increase in manpower over the next five years.

Led by Spring, the ITM will also integrate the efforts of various government agencies and associations to meet that target.

For instance, the retailing ready-to-eat meals through existing distribution channels such as supermarkets and convenience stores will enable food businesses here to expand their markets without opening more outlets or hiring more workers, Spring said.

Food distribution machines represent another distribution channel for ready meals; a VendCafe, Singapore's first food-vending machine cafe, was launched at Anchorvale Drive last month. Spring is evaluating the feasibility of implementing such machines at another 10 sites over the next 12 months, the agency added.

But beyond introducing new business models, the ITM will also work on revamping existing ones.

"Traditional coffee shops are heavily reliant on manpower, and operators are finding it increasingly difficult to hire workers," Spring said.

To address the issue, Spring and the Housing & Development Board have reviewed the tender requirements for bidders of new coffee-shop spaces. The new requirements will include productivity considerations beyond just rental bids.

To begin with, the new tender system will be piloted at two sites, in Tampines and Choa Chu Kang; the tender will open later this month.