Podcasts

Sustainability in the Tropics

Synopsis

Consumers are becoming more eco-conscious and are increasingly aware of the impact that their purchasing decisions and lifestyles have on the environment. This episode sets out to focus on innovative enterprises that have embraced the sustainability agenda and how they have collaborated with partners to transform themselves to tap into new opportunities for growth. Learn how companies can leverage the newly launched Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) and what sustainable manufacturing entails.

Transcript

0:01

Yvonne Chan: Welcome to futurepulse, a podcast series brought to you by IPI, your innovation partner for impact. Together, we will explore how ideas, creativity and collaboration drive impactful innovation.

Welcome to this episode of futurepulse where we will discuss Sustainability in the Tropics. I'm Yvonne Chan and I'm joined by Professor William Chen, the Michael Fam Chair Professor and the Director of NTU Food Science and Technology Programme, and Travin Singh, the Founder and Group CEO of CRUST Group. 

Welcome, gentlemen. I'm excited to be speaking to you both about this very timely topic, especially as people are becoming increasingly aware of the impacts that their purchasing decisions and lifestyles have on our environment. So, I want to take a look at innovative companies that have embraced the sustainability agenda, how they are tapping opportunities in this space. And let's also dive a little more into the elements that make up sustainable innovation, sustainable manufacturing, and more. First up, could you tell me more about your respective roles in the food tech and sustainability sector? Let's kick it off with you first, Prof Chen.

1:12

Professor William Chen: Hi good morning, everyone. I'm from NTU, and we have been developing food tech innovations, actually focusing on food waste reduction. The main purpose is that the food waste generation is actually a loophole in the efficient food system. So, we aim to develop simple and cost-effective way(s) to upcycle food waste, and therefore contribute to a more resilient Singapore food security.

1:44 Yvonne Chan: Food waste, a loophole. Thanks Prof Chen. Travin, what do you think of that?
1:49 Travin Singh: In terms of the loophole side of things? A lot of raw materials these days can be actually substituted (with) waste surplus, because for example, or using your food waste. So that's essentially where I would say CRUST Group also comes in. So we look within the loophole and try to find various ways that we could actually build beverages, using surplus ingredients and food waste as a substitute instead. So yeah, so spot on.
2:17 Yvonne Chan: It is right, as a food waste loophole. So, what does sustainable innovation mean to you, then Professor Chen?
2:24 Professor William Chen: Well, it has, what we have been doing is actually developing a platform technology so that will be more effective than developing solution based on one-to-one basis, right? So, and then we can move this platform technology around to sort of address different raw materials, to upcycle them, and by doing so, we're also in the process of creating a circular economy model for the food space.
2:55 Yvonne Chan: So, more (of) a platform technology that can be applied to different types of products, right? 
3:00 Professor William Chen: Yes, that's right.
3:00 Yvonne Chan: Rather than just one solution for one type of product. Thanks, Professor. Travin, the sustainable innovation, can you tell us how CRUST is transforming food by-products?
3:13 Travin Singh: Essentially, what Prof is doing is what we're doing as well, probably not so much on the R&D scale, or like various different products. So, we are focusing more on beverage side right now. But aside from that, when it comes to R&D, you could have a lot of help. Meaning, like people from my team have actually spoken to Prof as well, with regards to certain R&D aspect. And we do work with a lot of external like Uni(versities) and other companies as well from the R&D perspective. But supply chain is also extremely important. You know, so that's the part whereby we are looking quite hard at, you know, whereby if we are focusing like 50% of our energy at R&D, we are going to focus maybe 70% on supply chain as well, because ultimately, without a proper supply chain, right and if you cannot reach scale, you know, it will not be as feasible as possible.
4:05 Yvonne Chan: Sustainable supply chains, that's definitely another key topic. Hold that thought, Travin. I want to come back to that later because I think having sustainable supply chain is one of the biggest challenges facing many companies these days, especially those in the sustainability sector. But I want to come back to the title of our topic today sustainability in tropics, sustainability in Singapore. And Prof you've said before, no food safety is the same as not having food security. No food safety, no food security. So, tell me more about the new Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) and how that's gonna be a game changer for Singapore's Green Plan 2030.
4:42

Professor William Chen: Well, this Future Ready Food Safety Hub, in short we call it "FRESH", is actually a tripartite partnership between Singapore Food Agency, A*STAR and NTU, and NTU is a host institution for this initiative. This is part of the Singapore Food Story, which was launched one, two years ago. There are three pillars under the Singapore Food Story - one is Urban Farming, the second one is Alternative Protein, the third one is FRESH. So, it's very important to see that we are here talking about a new way of farming, a new way of producing food sources and in particular, protein sources. So, these alternative food sources, actually, we need to make sure that they are safe for our local consumers, and even the overseas consumer, (as) we'll export them to the region. So, risk assessment is part and parcel of this FRESH endeavour.

And also, we're talking about this consumer buy-in, right? So, if the local consumer(s) are not familiar with this novel food, and they are hesitant to sort of join in the effort to consume this novel food, then we're not really pushing for enhancing the Singapore food security. So, all these are very important aspect(s) that we need to consider, not just when we look at food space, we need to look at the system level. That means it's not just about farming, it's not just about food waste reduction, it's not just about nutrition; we need to integrate all these three elements together. So, call this is where we see how Singapore food security is going to move forward. And therefore, the food safety to make risk assessment, a proper risk assessment of the novel food, is actually a very critical component, but (it's) not the only component in the Singapore food security.

6:57 Yvonne Chan: Really good points that you've raised there. You said, food safety is not the only component, then what are some of the other components?
7:06 Professor William Chen: Well, first, we must be able to find a way to encourage tech driven farming practice to produce this novel food. Second, we need to, as Travin pointed out, (with) the supply chain part of the food system, through which we can monitor the traceability of the novel food and also reduce food waste generation at source. So therefore, we don't need to always do the firefighting job (of) reducing food waste. We can actually reduce at source, we don't always need to upcycle after the generation of our food waste. So (is an) important aspect and then the nutrition part, no point producing food that no one eats right? So emphasising the nutrition requirement, and what people should take, this is actually a more effective way of producing food. So here we are talking about new food system, in which we emphasise our nutritional requirement rather than the quantity of food we produce.
8:15 Yvonne Chan: Nutrition requirements. So that's also part of Singapore's 30 by 30 goal, right? Where we can meet our nutritional, Singapore's nutritional requirements. It's not the amount of food produced. 
8:26 Professor William Chen: Exactly. Absolutely.
8:27 Yvonne Chan: And you've raised a really good point too. Why produce food that no one's going to eat? Or why produce a drink that no one's going to drink? Travin, I want you to come in here now and tell us share with us some of your earlier experiences, you know, starting CRUST and what was the response from our locals, like in terms of drinking a beer that you brewed yourself?
8:50

Travin Singh: Um, okay, so that's quite interesting. I mean, there was a lot of education being done. But we were quite confident that as long as the product improved over time and we try our best to also look at the recipe and formulation and try and make it more local, more for the local palate. So, it was difficult at first, like at least the first couple of months, but as we moved along, and grew as a company, people started becoming a lot more receptive to the brand. And not just the brand, but the idea behind what we do as well. So yeah, we still do a lot of educating, a lot of content creation, and that's probably the direction of where the company wants to head towards also.

When we were entering the market, why we started CRUST is because we felt that there were a lot of waste management companies, for example, in Singapore, with very relevant technology or very relevant solutions to a food loss problem, but for lack of a better word, quite boring solutions and (were) mostly B2B-focused. And then people don’t understand a lot of food waste actually comes from consumer, it also comes from trade, right? So, when we enter a market, the first thing that we focused on was to look at the consumer aspect of things. Let's see, you know, let's dive into the market.

You know, of course, I entered the market by myself, I had no teammates whatsoever, there was a reason for it and it is because it was already a very risky idea, right? I don't want to have too big a group, and then we all fail together, right? So, if I fail by myself, you know, I could still take it. You know, and then when I reach a certain stage where people are already identifying the brand and our followers are getting more(and) support as well is more, then maybe it's time for us to put a team together to drive this idea across. So, we did a lot of content creation, we still do a lot of content creation. We focus a lot on consumers with regards to like tasting and all, we focus a lot on consumers when it comes to recipe and formulation.

And yeah, so far, so good. You know, people like the brand. They like the product. We have been improving our own product and our next focus will then be on trade. Moving forward, not so much consumers already, because that's the part I think we are doing a decent enough job. Why trade is because people don't understand that, yes, we have a lot of food waste right now in the world. Yes, we need to grow our own food waste as well. No, we don't have to grow our own food waste, we have to grow our own produce as well. But a lot of food waste actually comes from trade. When you import and export, by the time it reaches its end destination, you might lose maybe 10% 15% of yield due to the operation and supply chain aspect of things. So that's the part that we are very focused on right now as well. So it's not just consumers, and, you know, people becoming like, with regards to the consumer aspect, I think that part is done, you know, so it's time to move on to trade right now.

11:51 Yvonne Chan: Right. So, moving up the supply chain, right?
11:54 Travin Singh: Correct. 
11:54 Yvonne Chan: And focusing a lot more on sustainable trade, like you said.  When I spoke to you earlier, you've said before that with CRUST, you have not fully transformed, right? You are still pivoting from a brewing company to a food tech company. What were some of the key factors that enabled this transformation? And do you think on this current journey now, what will help your company focus more on the sustainable trade side of things, since you said the consumer side is more or less done?
12:30

Travin Singh: I mean, we are still transitioning, and I believe that you know, maybe even three to five years down the road, we will continue to transition. Because technology is advancing so fast. If you feel like you have everything figured out, it's probably when you will fail. So, right now we are building a team. At least from the consumer perspective, the R&D perspective, we know we have a decent enough product in the market for CRUST, especially. People already identify us with the beer side (of things). They like our products as well.

So right now, we have a second brand called CROP, which is where our non-alcoholic beverage comes in. And it is where we predominantly focus on fruit and vegetable wastage. We have a couple of food scientists within the company to focus on the R&D side. And at least on the R&D side, we also have various units that we can work with, even A*STAR and other companies that we can work with. So that's not going to be much of a problem. So, the main focus right now is to understand our own trade.

We have a lot of moving parts because of what we started out with, when we had to collect from different sources with regards to the food waste. But because we have more data right now, we can then focus on streamlining those data. So that's the focus. I will say that's pretty much what my job has been for this last couple of months, where I look at the supply chain properly and see how we can actually streamline everything as much as possible. Because essentially, I don't want people to look at us as a brewing company, or as just a fun (company). Of course, I would love to be a fun company. That's the whole idea behind it. But I want people to also not look at us as just a sustainability-based company. But instead, you know, a company that's focused on the FMCG side of things, the beverage side of things, the way we produce and manufacture beverage and not just the way we consume beverage, right? Because the way we produce and manufacture beverage has been the same the last 10 to 20 years, where there's not so much innovation being done in that space. So, we're looking at seeing how we could potentially look at that.

And then when it comes to trade at least. So as mentioned, a lot of food waste come from trade. So, if I could then, in the future, start building my Singapore products for example, my Japan products, made as much as possible not just with upcycle ingredients, but there are various other ways to also reduced food waste. So, if I could find as much locally-grown produce, which is what Prof mentioned as well, if I could find locally grown produce as a substitute for standard raw materials being flown in from like the UK, US and so on and so forth, I'm technically also reducing food waste. I'm being more dependent on food grown extremely close to me, right? And when you are less dependent on trade, food waste will also reduce. And in the future if I have any products that I want to export, for example, probably geographically, I will also look at only exporting to a certain distance. So, yes, food waste is one of the main reasons, I mean, trade is one of the main reasons for food waste but at the same time, COVID also showed that a lot of companies were very dependent on trade for their business models (and they) did not survive as well. So, these are just various aspects we are focusing on, not just the R&D.

15:42

Yvonne Chan: I like the overview that you just gave us, really. It's pretty comprehensive. And you said there's a lot more data that is available to you now and that I think is really powerful because you're able to use that to identify hotspots in your supply chains, in your trades, and then figure out where the wastage needs to be reduced immediately and pinpointed. Super. Prof, I want to know your comments on this, you know, on Travin's sharing. What are your thoughts on that?

16:11

Professor William Chen: Well, actually I agree entirely with Travin's perspective and based on his experience, I'll like to share that for sustainable innovations, (such as) tech driven farming for example, this innovation doesn't necessarily mean (that it is a) costly operation. So, the key is actually to look beyond the less obvious thing. For example, when we develop upcycling of side stream from (the) food processing industry, we look at simple processes. So, like most professors in universities, we try to you know, we will not say we try to complicate matters, but rather we try to move towards knowledge creation. So, it tends to be more complicated, rather than simplify the process. So, for food innovation, we actually move in the other opposite direction. So, we simplify the process. Why is that so? Because we know that tech-driven innovations, for a start by definition, is a cost that is actually a bottleneck. So, what we have been doing is to simplify our innovation to one to two steps, which means that first, it’s simple, scalability is high. Second it’s cost-effective. So, in the process, we have attracted quite a significant level of interest from (the) food industry and government agencies. So much so that within the short span of two to three years, we have sort of commercialised our innovation into a consumer product; two or three of them are already available in the supermarket(s).

18:00

Yvonne Chan: What are those?

18:03

Professor William Chen: Yeah, so, one of them is probiotic ice cube. You can find it in the NTUC FairPrice outlet(s). So, this is sort of a simplified process as compared to the older well-known probiotic beverages, which may have higher sugar content, and flavour that not everyone will like. In contrast, (with) probiotic ice cube you know, you can make healthier beverages depending on your choice of drinks. It can be apple juice, orange juice, things like that. So, this is already on the market. It is in partnership with a local company, I will not mention the name, but sponsored/funded by ESG actually.

The second one, not many people have heard of it, but everybody has used it. This is last year, at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, our government had distributed to all households (with) the black colour reusable antimicrobial mask. The antimicrobial part is actually our tech. The company licensed out our tech from NTU and incorporated in the textile fabric and distributed (it). They (have) made this antimicrobial reusable mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19. So, these are two examples of commercialisation of our simple innovations. And the third one, that is our flagship industry partnership with F&N, that will be available later this year.

19:52 Yvonne Chan: You said to watch that space, right?
19:54 Professor William Chen: Yes, so what I'm trying to say is not to promote the product, but rather to say that R&D can be simplified and can have a direct impact on the product development. 
20:06 Yvonne Chan: Can you share with us then, Travin? Because you did say that your company is not focused as much on the R&D aspect, more on the trade bit. So how is CRUST then collaborating with partners to tap into new growth opportunities that could also, you know, where you see more of your partners bringing in the R&D aspect?
20:29

Travin Singh: We are actually extremely focused on the R&D aspect and as much as possible, if I can keep it in-house, I will. But as a start-up, you’re always short on funds. We try to keep things as lean as possible. So, when I mentioned that I'm not as focused, it's because we have reached the point whereby, we have done R&D on a couple of products already. It's time for us to then focus on the supply chain side, and the trade side, for us to make this a feasible product within the market. But having said that, when I tried to keep things as lean as possible, we do have a couple of food scientists within the company to continue R&D, but anything where I need to use external resources that I don't have, then that's where we work with various different universities, and even Singapore Poly(technic) as well as A*STAR, and Bright Science Hub. These are the kind of companies that we work with, and we use their external facilities and their external capabilities to increase our own. So that's the part.

Whereas within the company, we do have two models. We have the product business model, we also the service side of things. So the product is where we just built our own products, right? We know the CRUST and CROP's standalone product, and then we sell in the market via e-commerce, supermarket, retail, so on and so forth.

But we have the service side, where we work with other F&B, hospitality, you know, aviation companies, right? These are companies that already generate their own surplus ingredient(s), due to various reasons. And then we come in as their R&D partner. So, with these companies, we take on a very different role. So if you do look at what we have in the market right now with Tiong Bahru Bakery, Bettr Barista and SaladStop!, these are where we adopt those roles with these companies, right? We come in as an R&D company, and we upcycle their surplus ingredients and we co-brand a product with them. So instead of buying external products, right, why not create your own meat from your own surplus ingredients? So, that's exactly how we can try our best to achieve collectively that reduction in food wastage, that 1% that we're looking to achieve 10 years from now. So yeah, so that's pretty much what we do from the R&D and trade perspective.
22:36 Yvonne Chan: So, you talked about creating meat from your own surplus products. I want to ask you both then, how do you see sustainable food tech companies differentiating themselves and defining success in the market going ahead? Prof, you did say that you wanted to make it clear today that innovation farming does not have to be costly, and there are ways to get around the bottlenecks, right? Instead of complicating things, it is about keeping it as simple as possible, scaling up and just finding ways to be a lot more cost effective and getting to market a lot quicker through different commercialisation processes. What would you say to this question, then? How sustainable food tech companies are differentiating themselves?
23:14 Professor William Chen: Well, first, we need to mount a very effective education campaign, right? To educate (and) raise awareness of the importance of sustainability in the food space, not just to industry players and the academic, but also, more importantly, (to the) consumers. And when I talk about these sustainable food tech innovations, we also need to bear in mind that Singapore, being a high-tech place, of course, is an ideal place to test all these new innovations. But ultimately, we are still a very small country. So whatever impact we can create is limited by our size. So, (an) important consideration will be how we can bring this technology beyond Singapore, so that everyone in the region, our neighbouring countries (could) benefit from this tech innovation and then we can grow together. That is a way to promote sustainability and also enhance regional local food security.
24:22 Yvonne Chan: Not just local food security alright, but as regional food security. 
24:26 Professor William Chen: Exactly. 
24:26 Yvonne Chan: Thanks, Prof. Travin, I understand you also have an entity already in Japan. Tell us more about that and how that's part of your growth and expansion strategy?
24:36

Travin Singh: Um, yeah, I mean, we are definitely moving into such countries, where at least government-wise, they are looking at different policies revolving around sustainability. Or at least environment, climate change and all the different aspects. So Japan was a conversation that we have been having (for) the last one year, you know, then we reached a stage whereby people identified the brand already, but we had no entity and no product. So this started happening I think late last year, and then that was the time I think we felt it was the right time for us to then build an entity and have the product ready, both in Tokyo and Osaka.

And yeah, so it's been interesting. It's been a very different market from Singapore. So Prof was right, that you know, in Singapore it's very small, right? There's only so much I could do here. Whereas, one thing that we realised is that in a bigger market, where they have their own (extensive) farming and their own local produce, our impact is slightly more because of the entire supply chain. And that I have mentioned as well, a lot of surplus ingredients comes out of it, then we can come in and we can try and tackle all that instead. You know, then in certain ways, we haven't really figured out the different aspect(s) yet, but in certain ways, we could also help different farmers in Japan, for example, not just the bigger corporates or the bigger bakeries, or the bigger companies with rice, but maybe even farmers to a certain extent.

So, it's been interesting, a very interesting ride. But everything still boils down to price and product quality. You know, no matter what you do, you (will) still need to reach (a) scale where you could drive costs down and show other people within the market that what we're doing is feasible – that it's a proper way of doing things, that there are better ways to do so when it comes to producing and manufacturing beverages.

So, that's probably like our main journey, in the last two months or so, and probably will be the main focus six months from now, you know, whereby we look at how we can actually reach a certain scale, so that we can drive costs down, whereas our product is still extremely good, right? Because I don't want to just appeal to the people who already believe in the brand or, you know, look at sustainability and understand it. You know, I want to appeal to the people who don't understand it, or don't really care about it to a certain extent, or is not at the top of their mind. Because when you can appeal to such consumers, then you probably win half the battle already.

27:07

Yvonne Chan: Yeah, that's when you have a real behavioural change. So, CRUST is now focused more on the price and product quality. And I think I would be echoing both of you, when I say that there really needs to be education in the taste of such products, the safety of such products, and the feasibility of what you guys are doing and creating.

But there's also this risk of green companies, right, alienating customers because of this very overzealous promotion of their agenda. And earlier in this conversation today, Travin, you did say that you don't want to be known just as a sustainability company. To both Prof Chen and Travin, how can we overcome this? Besides a lot of education, I think sometimes we are just too inundated with a lot of campaigns. What do you think, Prof?

27:54

Professor William Chen: Yeah, well, actually I don't do this black or white, why yes or no, type of classification. So, having this green company around, it’s good to raise awareness in general about alternative food sources, right? Actually, they are helping us a lot in promoting this presence of alternative food sources that are around us. For example, if we were to talk about underutilised crops, there's a local company promoting these underutilised crops, like for example, Bambara groundnuts to incorporate into the diet. And on the other hand, we also need to be aware that these green companies, although they may have their own agenda, but ultimately in my view, it is about providing consumers with more options rather than replacement. By doing so, then you will have lesser of a pushback from either side.

And (for) the consumers, you know, food is something that is very interesting, in a sense that we cannot force people to eat things that they don't like to eat, as what we have discussed earlier. So, I will say that taste is key, and cost is another important factor. So, no matter what you say, if the taste is not there, consumer is not going to buy it. So, I will say it’s like, you know, in the initial stage there is a lot of, I will not say hype, a lot of push, towards alternative food. But it's good in the sense that the consumer now can see beyond their current diet, which is good for Singapore's food security because then, in a way, they're helping (the) government to promote these alternative food sources from the Singapore Food Story. So, I see that it's a synergistic effect, an indirect synergistic effect for our Singapore food security. And for the consumer part, I would just say that we’ll leave them to decide, because there are always two factors - taste and cost.

30:16 Yvonne Chan: That's a very refreshing perspective, I actually didn't see it that way. But after listening to you, I can totally understand where you're coming from in terms of, you know, having these discussions, right, what's good, what's out there? Should I consider this or not? It's just giving consumers a lot more options. And… 
30:32 Professor William Chen: Exactly. 
30:33 Yvonne Chan: being privy to different kinds of discussions that's happening in this space. Travin, your thoughts on this please?
30:39

Travin Singh: I'm going to keep my answer a little bit short and sweet. But I do agree with Prof and it's also what I've mentioned before as well. Everything still boils down to, you know, the product itself and the cost. So, when it comes to like the greenwashing side, you know, where everybody have their own opinions on it, right? Definitely gives people a lot more option(s), whether more expensive or a cheaper option, then that will be the consumer who would go and decide, on whether do (they) want to go for that option or not?

So, from our perspective, at least at CRUST, what we are focusing on is to look at the way we produce and manufacture beverage and try to keep it cost effective as well, not just within the company, but even for consumers as well. So unfortunately, there were a lot of moving parts when we first started the company, therefore, the higher cost. But that should not always be the driver, 10 years from now. Your cost should never be the same 10 years later, right? Because you should have already innovated in the space and found more solutions to all those different moving parts, you know, and therefore drive the cost down, whereas also keeping your product quality intact. So, I’ll probably just leave it at that, in terms of our focus, with regards to the whole sustainability side of things.

31:52

Yvonne Chan: Thanks, Travin. Very concise there. Before we wrap, Professor, very quickly, do you think our inherent tropical conditions, (as) this topic is (on) Sustainability in the Tropics, are our tropical conditions a hindrance to achieving zero food waste here?

32:09

Professor William Chen: I don't think so. I think it's more like a human behaviour type of thing. For that, I see a solution, not just by developing technology to reduce food waste, but equally important, is the educational aspect and also infrastructure build up. So, we need to tackle this food waste problem from two angles.

First, is to reduce the waste generation, at source. For that, the consumer behaviour and the government's support for the infrastructure build up will help a lot. So interestingly, you can see that throughout this COVID-19, ever since we have this circuit breaker last year, we (have) all stopped eating buffets. And in fact, nothing has changed in terms of our health, right, everybody stays healthy and so on. So, there are things that we can change, but unfortunately, usually (it is) through crisis, right?

So, education will help us change behaviour, without going through crisis. A crisis is unpleasant to everyone. So, this is one aspect to reduce waste generation at source. The second one is to upcycle, and develop technology to sort of create a closed loop circular economy model, and then connect back to this nutrient recovered from food waste back to the food chain. These are very important to Singapore because we import 90% of our food. So, there was actually a survey done by the Food and Agriculture Organisation under the UN, to say that if we can reduce the food waste to zero, actually there’s no need to push for a higher yield of agriculture. So that shows the importance of food waste reduction. So, I believe that we can do it, but it's never one dimensional. We need the effort from everyone to work together.

34:18

Yvonne Chan: Absolutely. I see both nodding there. Before we wrap now, or rather, as a parting note for this conversation today. Can I get you both to share with me your two goals for sustainable food tech in the next decade, Travin?

34:38

Travin Singh: Interesting question. Definitely driving my costs down so that I can start competing in the mass premium market at least. So that's definitely something that we are definitely focused on. And at least in the next 10 years, so there's within the company, at least we have this plan that we call the CRUST universe, you know, so it's like the bigger broader plan. Yeah, it's like the bigger broader plan, you know, so we want to tackle the beverage industry first, and show that things can be done in a better way. Thereafter, we want to move towards food application. Then thirdly, packaging thereafter.

So, for food application, just to give you a little bit of teaser; we have already converted like our spent grain, which is a by-product of making beer, into a food application. We've done R&D on it but again, the team is still very lean right now. And we have like Japan right now as a market and CROP coming up as our second brand, so we have enough on our plate right now. So the whole idea is to just learn the supply chain side and the feasibility of entering market. And when we increase our own resources and capabilities, we will then introduce the product into the market. So we're not stopping at beverage, that's pretty much what I will say.

35:53 Yvonne Chan: Awesome, so not just stopping at beverage, but expanding your CRUST universe. And I like that you are I mean, through the course of our conversation, I'm hearing a lot of "we're learning about this", "we're learning about that". There's a lot of education that's happening for yourself and for your own team members, right, Travin? That is a great attitude there. Prof?
36:14 Professor William Chen: Well, in addition to sustainability, in terms of food tech innovation, I also believe in sustainability in talent development. You know in Singapore, (for) young kids, very few of them take this food tech as their career choice, right, unfortunately. So, when I have been doing this outreach on education, outreach in the secondary school, and so on, I use a very simple example to show the importance of food. 
36:46 Yvonne Chan: What's the example?
36:50 Professor William Chen: So, the top choice for local kids, there are two. First is medical school, second is the law school. I told them, food technologies, it should be your first choice. Why?
37:03 Yvonne Chan: Why?
37:03 Professor William Chen: Because with food technologies, we produce nutritious and good food. So, when people eat this nutritious and tasty food, they're happy. When they're happy, they're healthy. They don't fall sick, you don't need doctors. And when they're happy, they don't do funny things. You don't need lawyers. That was a little bit farfetched but over time we have seen changes that, for example, every year, I go to one of the top schools to share the experience in FST (food science and technology) development. And the brother school, I guess you can imagine which one, and the brother school start offering the FST course since last year to the secondary three students. They have also come to the university, to my side, to do food research. And some of them have won national level competition for research. So, I think talent development is a critical part. There are a lot of critical part, but without talent, we can't sustain the technology development. So, I believe my parting words are talent development is also a critical part of the sustainability technology development.
38:22 Yvonne Chan: Absolutely, sustainability in talent development in the food technology sector. So, make food technologist, one of your career choices, if any of our young millennials or teens are listening to this podcast, food technology is the way to go. So, thank you so much, Professor Chen and Travin, 
38:42 Professor William Chen: Thank you.
38:42 Travin Singh: Thank you. 
38:44 Yvonne Chan: for sharing your very, very refreshing perspectives today. I think the future is looking really bright for the sustainable food tech space, and there are some very easy steps that we can all take to achieve zero food waste, as shared by you both today. And when it comes to defining success in the sustainable food tech space, it boils down to that right, focusing on price and product quality, and making sure there's adequate education in the taste aspect of alternative foods, in the safety aspect of alternative foods as well as the feasibility of going down this journey. And there's nothing like finding the right partner to scale up and seize opportunities in this arena as well. So we wish you both all the very best. I'm Yvonne Chan, thank you so much for joining us. I will see you next time for another exciting and insightful episode.

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