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SMF’s Chairman shares his vision for the industry

4 March 2019 by Food&HotelAsia


Mr. Cheong Chung Kin, SMF’s Chairman for Food & Beverages Industry Group, shares with FHA Insider his thoughts on digital transformation, SMF’s latest initiatives and how can SMEs capitalise on Industry 4.0.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Mr. Cheong: I am a foodie at heart, an economist by training, and an outdoorsman when there is an alignment of time, weather and occasion.

As SMF’s new Chairman for Food & Beverages Industry Group (IG), what’s your vision for the industry, and what do you hope to achieve by the end of the term?

Mr. Cheong: I see myself not so much as the new Chairman, but as a returning Chair after my last stint in 2012-2014. I would like to continue to build on the shoulders of my predecessors, to help keep our city-state food and beverage members relevant and commercially viable in this disruptive new economy.

Are there any new initiatives you will be spearheading for the IG in the next two years?

Mr. Cheong: The IG will unveil 2 new initiatives. One, we are formalising a Pro-Enterprise platform internally, to engage with the various government agencies and stakeholders. Two, the national agenda, War on Diabetes, takes centre stage for this year, as we engage with all stakeholders in responsible management and support of this agenda.

Digital transformation has been talked about a lot recently. What are your thoughts on it, in relation to the food & beverage industry?

Mr. Cheong: Digital transformation is here to stay. However, not all processes can be digitalised. And even if a process can be digitalised, it may be better not to do so. In this regard, while the SMF provides assistance and knowledge in the digitalisation process to our members, it is up to the members to assess their individual production processes and then decide what level of digital transformation is feasible for their respective businesses.

In your opinion, how can SMEs capitalise on Industry 4.0?

Mr. Cheong: Even before Industry 4.0 became a buzzword, there were already many SMF-SME members going full speed at smart automation. Manufacturing in Singapore cannot be for a low-cost, low value-add product or service. In this regard, one cannot reasonably expect to continue being competitive, if Industry 4.0 has not already been adopted in the last decade.

Are there any schemes under SMF that can assist companies with their digitalisation efforts?

Mr. Cheong: SMF, together with ESG and other agencies, work together on encouraging members to digitalise through many fronts. Seminars, shared learning on the various grants/subsidies, as well as our many dialogue platforms with government agencies provide members with opportunities to share and exchange knowledge.

More recently, in May 2018, the SMF launched the Go Digital Project Management Services. It helps SMEs that want to go digital but do not have the scale to digitalise. Under the programme, SMEs can tap on “mentors” or digital project managers to help them deploy technology, and receive funding support of up to 70 percent of the qualifying costs. With the SMF as the first operator for this service, SMEs can tap into the SMF’s expertise and resources to hand-hold them as they embark on their digitalisation journey.

Food&HotelAsia has served the ecosystem for four decades and counting were there any memorable moments for you?

Mr. Cheong: Food&HotelAsia is the single most important trade exhibition for the Food and Beverage industry. SMF continues to rely on the FHA platform as a global reach to our markets abroad.

What are your thoughts on Food&HotelAsia’s evolvement into two shows, FHA-HoReCa and FHA-Food & Beverage come 2020?

Mr. Cheong: Functionally and financially speaking, it is perhaps the appealing and right path for Informa Markets. I think that growth must encompass all parties, leaving no one behind or worse off. I wish Informa Markets all the best in achieving this goal, of a win-win, for all stakeholders involved in the two shows in 2020. It will be a marvellous achievement, to hold quality and quantity at the same standards as a one-venue exhibition, and we hold Informa Markets to this gold standard.

What do you look forward to from FHA in 2020?

Mr. Cheong: A more unified experience, for both trade visitors and exhibitors. Also, as FHA is an important trade fair for industry players to collaborate and form business partnerships, it would be ideal to ensure that only trade-related visitors are permitted entry.

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