The innovation and transformation of Asean’s agri-food industry (The Business Times)

At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, closed borders fuelled fears of a food shortage that sparked panic-buying at supermarkets in Singapore and around the world. The disruption to food supply chains also caused worry about runaway food prices due to inflation.

This has cast a spotlight on the importance of food security for countries globally.

The issue of food security is particularly pertinent in Asean given its growing population is expected to drive up the demand for food.

According to projections by UOB Global Economics and Market Research based on data from the United Nations, the region’s population is estimated to reach 767 million by 2040.

With this population growth, the region’s total consumption is projected to increase by 2.2 times to nearly US$4 trillion by 2030, a report by the World Economic Forum in 2020 showed.

Asean consumers will continue to spend more in the food and beverage category than in any other product category, said the report.

While increasing agricultural output is one way to meet the rising demand, this will put a strain on traditional food systems. To stay viable for the long term, players in the agri-food industry need to seek more sustainable solutions.

The rise of agri-food innovation

Agri-food is a key sector in Asean, providing jobs and supporting the local economies. In 2019, the sector contributed US$717 billion to the region’s economies and supported 127 million jobs in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam according to Oxford Economics, a UK-based research firm.

In order to boost the productivity of the agri-food sector, countries are turning to technology as a solution.

For example, the Indonesian government has earmarked 104 trillion rupiah (S$9.88 billion) to strengthen the country’s food infrastructure and technology.

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The Business Times

8 December 2021