Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade), at the Singapore Food Services Productivity Conference 2015 highlighted the need for food services to adapt innovative digital service solutions.
The Food Services sector plays a vital role in Singapore’s economy as it meets a basic domestic need and supports the vibrancy of the tourism industry. The sector is competitive. The Government recognises the difficulties that food companies face in remaining competitive and this is why they provide support for raising productivity, and introduced greater support for innovation in Budget 2015 to allow companies to remain sustainable over the longer term.
Mr Lim Hng Kiang added “Another key trend which we have noticed is the sector’s continued heavy reliance on manpower. Over the period 2004 to 2014, the sector’s workforce grew at 8.5 per cent annually, slightly more than double that of the nation’s workforce growth. Moving forward, the labour market will continue to tighten and evolve. This reliance on manpower, especially on rank-and-file workers, is not tenable.”
He stated that innovation can benefit companies in various ways. It allows them to find ways of doing things better, thereby improving operational efficiency. It also allows them to develop new products and services, thereby growing top line. These require companies to constantly look at new ways to prepare and serve food.
The 2nd Food Services Productivity Plan supports the food industry in innovating and transiting towards a leaner workforce. One important initiative to improve front-of-house efficiency is to further drive the adoption of digital service solutions such as mobile apps, kiosks, and tablet ordering.
These solutions facilitate self-service and reduce the manpower needed to take customers’ orders and payments. For example, Five Bar recently opened its fifth outlet housing offerings such as tapas, a whisky bar and a wine shop. This food court-like concept features a self-ordering and self-payment system which is projected to help the outlet achieve manpower savings of 50 per cent.
“To date, over 600 establishments have adopted digital service solutions, with about half of them coming on-board within the first five months of 2015. I am glad that the industry is becoming more receptive towards harnessing IT to improve efficiency.”
He added “The Food Services sector is one that touches our lives on a daily basis. As we work together to transform the sector, we as consumers can also look forward to more efficient and innovative business models. In fact, our openness to trying new concepts will play a large and important part in encouraging companies to adopt new business models.”