NTU, F&N in partnership to develop healthier products and greener packaging

Wong Casandra
Senior Reporter
The F&N-NTU F&B Innovation Lab is helmed by Prof William Chen (left), Director of NTU Food Science and Technology Programme, and Dr Yap Peng Kang, Head of Corporate R&D at F&N. (PHOTO: NTU)

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and beverage company Fraser and Neave (F&N) on Monday (7 January) jointly opened a laboratory, kickstarting a four-year partnership to develop healthier products and greener packaging.

The F&N-NTU F&B Innovation Lab, located in the university’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, will see 30 researchers and students from NTU’s Food Science and Technology (FST) programme working together with F&N’s Research & Development department on industry applications for F&N and other players in the fast-moving consumer goods industry.

Some of the projects in development are new recipes utilising by-products from the soybean and beer industry, as well as biodegradable packaging, such as those made from soybean waste.

F&N’s 1st long-term joint research partnership

The laboratory is touted to be F&N’s first long-term joint research partnership with an academic institution. Lee Meng Tat, F&N’s chief executive officer of non-alcoholic beverages division, said, “In line with our commitment to deliver sustainable business practices, our collaboration with NTU will see the furthering of our green efforts, as well as cater to the health and nutritional needs of our consumers.”

The Singapore-based company produces the Ice Mountain bottled water, the 100Plus isotonic drink, the Seasons brand of iced tea drinks, the Nutriwell line of drinks, and other beverages.

NTU president Subra Suresh called the collaboration an “important testbed for zero waste food processing for the F&B industry”.

“Currently, traditional food processing mainly targets the storage and transportation aspects of F&B products, but does not adequately address the large amount of food waste that arises from manufacturing processes,” he added at the launch.

“This collaboration will foster research that will result in better food products, greener packaging, and conversion of waste produced from food processing into valuable resources.”

Projects will help contribute to ‘zero food waste processing’

The projects under the partnership will help “close the loop” in the process, contributing to “zero food waste processing”, said Professor William Chen, director of NTU’s FST programme, who will helm the lab, alongside Dr Yap Peng Kang, head of corporate research and development for F&N.

Prof Chen added, “In Singapore, a lot of food waste are generated, including in the food processing industry. Being a small country, they cause pollution and consume a lot of energy if we dispose of them. Through these zero food waste processing innovations, we will help Singapore to help lesser food waste.”

He also believes that developing more nutritional products, especially “important in an aging population” such as Singapore’s, can help address cardiovascular and obesity-related diseases.

To date, the programme has also collaborated with around seven other F&B companies in similar projects.

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