30X30:Our Hunger for Food Security

The story of food security in Singapore

Beyond 30by30: a glimpse into the future of food production in Singapore

Hi everyone, welcome back! So far, we’ve been looking at the 30by30 goal and how it would affect food production in Singapore in the immediate future. But what about beyond 2030? Will it be a high tech (u/dys)topia, and what role would more conventional farms play?

As Alicia mentioned in her post, cell-cultured meat products such as Shiok Meats are gaining attention. In a recent press release, they claim that cultured meat may reduce “greenhouse gas emissions by 96%, energy consumption by 45%, land use by 99%, and water consumption by 96%”. This is supported by various journal articles. Reading through them, I realised that not all cultured meat will save energy as livestock like poultry are conventionally less energy-intensive.  For Shiok Meats, I am not sure if the savings will be as high compared to other local high tech farms in operation. Local shrimp farm Universal Aquaculture employs closed system vertical farming which reduces water consumption – unlike Shiok Meats which is still in the R&D phase, they plan to produce 400 tonnes by 2022.

So how do companies like Shiok Meat plan to capture the market share? In an interview with Channel News Asia, the co-founder shared that they plan on equipping existing farmers with the technology once it is commercially viable. This makes a lot of sense as these farmers are already well integrated into the supply chain. While cultured meat has not been able to replicate the full animal yet, they might be able to meet the demand for processed food similar to HaiDiLao’s popular smashed shrimp paste.

But would the public accept cultured meat? Only a quarter of my survey respondents were open to giving it a try.

plant-based “fake” meats seem most popular

I think some hesitation stems from it being unnatural and seen as “lab-grown” – in fact, the way I phrased the option may have led some to view it negatively. On a commercial level, cultured meats will be produced in facilities more similar to food processing plants than labs. More people may be concerned about the safety and ethical implications of the award-winning TurtleTree Labs, which produces breast milk. It can be harder to trace the origins of cultured animal products, and some people may be put off by the idea of producing human products the same way as other common livestock.

took part in a taste test for “pork” dumplings. They were…ok

Does this mean that the future of local food production will solely be in cultured meat with no conventional farms? I don’t think so. Cultured meats require culture mediums – and it would be great if the nutrients could be derived from local vegetables and produce. As mentioned earlier, poultry farming tends to be less resource-intensive and it may not make economical sense to culture chicken meat. Another aspect would be more “niche” meats – such as frog meat which I tried with Anna recently (read her blog here). After interacting with patrons, I realised that while there is always a demand for frog meat, it might not be enough to justify the R&D into making cultured frog meat. Just with organic or non-GMO produce, there will always be a market for “conventionally” farmed meat too.

That’s all from me, join me next week as I bring this to a close and look beyond our shores.


Ee Kin


  1. Hey Ee Kin!

    I didn’t know there was so much research done on lab grown meat! I first heard about it years ago, and read that it was super expensive at the time.

    Just a thought, do you think cultured meats could actually be used to enhance our diets? Just like how Golden Rice has beta carotene, maybe more nutrients or vitamins could be artificially amplified in the meat. Do you think this could increase receptiveness to the idea of lab grown meat?

    Thanks for the mention too (:

    – Anna

    • See Toh Ee Kin

      November 5, 2020 at 1:58 PM

      Hi Anna,

      Apologies for the slight delay in responding. I’m glad the five submissions/presentations this week are over, hope you’re doing fine too.

      That’s an interesting point. Currently, many local farms selling eggs highlight the increased nutritional value of their products (lower cholestrol, more vitamins and omega 3) due to their feed. This could be something cultured meat producers could highlight similar benefits – some people are already concerned about high cholestrol intake from seafood. However, highlighting that these benefits as artificially magnified may increase the perception that the meat is “unnatural” and hence unhealthy. A good marketting team would be needed to tread this fine line.


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