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Singapore brand mark to be introduced; 6,700 opportunities in food sector

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With increasing focus on food safety and quality, it is imperative to deepen the trust premium of Singapore food products, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Monday, when he announced plans to introduce a Singapore brand mark.

WITH increasing focus on food safety and quality, it is imperative to deepen the trust premium of Singapore food products, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Monday, when he announced plans to introduce a Singapore brand mark.

This Singapore brand mark for local consumer lifestyle products will be introduced in November, starting with products related to food & beverage (F&B), fashion and accessories, beauty and wellness, and homeware and decor.

This is in line with Singapore's "Passion Made Possible" country brand, which represents the Republic's passion-driven attitude and spirit of determination, said Mr Chan.

"If we can do this well, it will further strengthen our own domestic food resilience, because the more we produce for the region and the world, the more able we are to guarantee our food supply by making sure that we are a critical part of the global value chain. So this is our strategy to grow our resilience, and at the same time create better jobs for fellow Singaporeans."

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), there are 6,700 opportunities in the food sector, even as more than 44,000 jobseekers have been helped through career-matching services between January and August this year.

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Since April, more than 800 companies have offered close to 6,700 opportunities, of which 44 per cent are for PMETs, said the ministry. These include roles such as food technologists, chefs, F&B services managers, and business development managers.

Roles for non-PMETs include supervisors and general foreman (food processing), bakers, pastry and confectionery makers, as well as shop and store salespersons.

Between April and July this year, more than 1,800 individuals have - through Workforce Singapore's (WSG) programmes - found jobs or took on new roles in the sector, which comprises both food services and food manufacturing sub-sectors.

Of this, more than half (56 per cent) were aged 40 and above. Close to 80 are mid-career individuals who entered the food sector through career-conversion programmes. Most of them came from sectors as diverse as financial and insurance, wholesale trade, accommodation and food services, and transportation and storage.

MOM also provided a breakdown of performance within the sub-sectors. Within the food manufacturing sub-sector, firms that have invested in automation have continued to grow as they were able to continue producing food supplies and meeting business demands with minimal disruption despite the "circuit-breaker" measures.

That being said, the business outlook remains mixed for food manufacturing companies serving different markets.

For instance, companies manufacturing staple foods and those that sell their products through retail chains saw a 30 per cent to 70 per cent surge in sales. Conversely, companies supplying hotels, restaurants, cafes (HORECA) and food services space saw a 40 per cent to 90 per cent decline in sales.

Hiring activities have mirrored these trends.

Companies producing staple food and/or sold through retail channels are likely to hire to meet ongoing or increased demand, noted MOM, adding that the shortage of workers affected by travel restrictions and border lockdowns may also encourage their employers to hire local talent. Meanwhile, activity remains muted for companies serving HORECA and food services space.

Separately, the food services sub-sector was harder-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, having to cope with both manpower shortage and low footfall.

That being said, both the WSG's Job Redesign Reskilling Programme - which was introduced in February 2020 - and efforts by companies to redesign and enhance jobs have seen traction. As at the end of August, close to 900 existing workers across 25 food service companies have been or are being trained and redeployed into new and higher-value roles. Of this group, 74 per cent are aged 40 and above, noted MOM.

The Restaurant Association of Singapore and the Association for Catering Professionals will be partnering WSG to reach out to more jobseekers who have been affected by Covid-19 through virtual career fairs, said the ministry.

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