Insights into Singapore’s Food Services Industry in 2023 and beyond: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities
Food Services | 03 Aug 2023
Singapore boasts a diverse culinary scene, that brings together flavours from all corners of the world. As such, the food services industry holds a special place in the hearts of Singaporeans and tourists alike. Dining out has long been a cherished tradition for many, and even COVID-19 was unable to put a dent to Singaporeans’ love for eating. Statista reported that as of June 2022, restaurants in Singapore recorded a 76.8 percent increase in sales compared to the previous year. In addition, the food and beverages services recorded increases in sales across all sectors.
The food services industry plays a vital role in Singapore’s economy, contributing approximately $5.26 billion in gross domestic product in 2022 and is expected to generate a revenue of $13.5 billion in 2023. The F&B industry in Singapore showcases its dynamic nature and promising opportunities. However, amidst its potential for growth, businesses must confront various challenges to achieve success. As we delve into this article, we explore strategies for Singapore’s food services industry to not only endure but thrive in 2023 and beyond.
Trends in the food services industry
Even in pre-COVID times, the Singapore food services industry was already contending with changes in consumer behaviour regarding preferences, taste, packaging, technological advancements, and regulations.
Now that the country entered into a new normal, consumers are looking out for eco-friendly products, ingredients and meal options given the rise in preference for delivery and takeaway even with the return of dining in. Consumers are also looking for even more convenience such as fuss-free cooking meals, or ready-to-heat meals.
Digital transformation in the food services industry in Singapore
Consumer behaviours are always changing and evolving, pandemic or not. Following the recent trends that the food services industry is facing, we look at some of the transformations that companies in the F&B sector have undertaken.
Robots and machines in kitchens
The use of robots and machines ensures quality and affordability, driving down the costs of keeping food fresh and increasing productivity. These machines work at a faster pace without getting tired and help ensure safety, for example by using robots to cut the more difficult of the meats.
Usage of operational technology
Kiosks are fast becoming a common feature in the food services industry with bigger chains like McDonald’s and KFC using them in most outlets. We even see ordering kiosks sprouting in food courts and confectioneries. These kiosks allow customers to place orders and complete payments.
Certain restaurants have also deployed automation systems that allow guests to see information about their reservations, orders and promotions all under one platform. This eliminates the need for a human worker to clarify and confirm their booking or order details and allows guests to keep information in check. Such operational systems reduce human error, increase productivity, and reduce the chances of theft.
Eco-friendly waste and packaging
As consumers are increasingly focused on healthy meals and sustainability, brands have little choice but to keep up with this trend. F&B businesses in Singapore are highly encouraged to ‘go green’ by using biodegradable packaging or reducing the usage of disposables. This awareness has been brought to the fore during dining restrictions in the time of the pandemic where all orders were packed for takeaways or deliveries.
Support for companies in the food services industry in Singapore
COVID-19 was the catalyst which showed businesses across all industries that digitalisation, innovation, and technology are necessary for survival. In Singapore, the government saw that it was critical not just to help companies tide over the challenging period, but to help businesses emerge stronger from the crisis. To this end, the government played a key role in nudging businesses to digitally transform.
In food services, for example, traditional hawkers were encouraged to accelerate their digitalisation efforts through on-ground visits by officers, subsidies, and support schemes. As a result, the Singapore F&B industry is now more readily adopting new tech and mobile applications. Listed below are some of the support schemes that businesses in the food services industry may benefit from.
Hawkers Go Digital Programme
This collaborative workgroup includes delivery platforms, hawkers associations, community partners, and government agencies, working together to support hawkers by promoting digitalisation, developing a sustainable commercial model, and increasing consumer awareness about delivery platforms.
Energy Efficiency Grant
The grant will provide up to 70% support for SMEs to adopt pre-approved energy-efficient equipment in the following categories: LED lighting, air-conditioners, cooking hobs, refrigerators, water heaters and clothes dryers. Grant support for qualifying costs will be capped at S$30,000 per company per year.
Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)
The PSG was launched in April 2018 to support businesses in their transformation journey and covers sector-specific solutions such as retail, food, and logistics. Businesses can receive up to $30,000 in funding to improve business productivity through IT solutions and equipment.
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This article was originally contributed by Moses Ku, Senior Manager (Engagement), IndSights Research in 2021, and has been revised and updated by Syuhada Subuki, Executive (Engagement) to reflect recent developments within the food services industry.