The increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes provides the company numerous opportunities in the region, where it has outlined its intention to address both issues.
Roquette is also motivated by APAC’s growing middle class and its widespread concerns about sustainability, and hopes to offer solutions using its plant-based ingredients.
Adaptation and location
Addressing guests at Roquette's opening ceremony in Singapore on 26 October, CEO Jean-Marc Gilson said: "We know that we need to adapt our solutions to the specific needs of the different markets.
"Our facilities in Singapore will allow us to explore new ways to address specific health and nutrition needs of Asian customers and consumers through plant-based ingredients, such as sugar alternatives, vegetal proteins or pharmaceutical excipients."
Located in Biopolis, the innovation centre spans over 1,100 sq m and includes a research laboratory and customer technical services; its operations consist mainly of Roquette's food, nutrition and pharmaceutical arms.
With regards to the decision to set up shop in Singapore, Gilson said, "Singapore's connectivity with countries throughout Asia makes it the perfect place to locate these new facilities, which will be a key part of our global network.
"We are looking forward to fostering closer collaboration with our customers and partners, as well as further developing our business activities in the region."
Collaboration for nutrition
Also present at the opening was guest of honour Lim Chuan Poh, chairman of A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research).
He said, "By 2030, Asia will represent two-thirds of the global middle-class population and about 60% of middle-class consumption. This translates to tremendous growth opportunities."
He added that 60% of the world's diabetics reside in Asia, and that Singapore's incidence of diabetes is second only to that of the US.
Citing a report that showed a 15% growth rate in health food categories in Singapore — in contrast with the 5% global average — Lim said, "These trends and opportunities reinforce the importance for companies to be in Asia to innovate and respond to the particular needs of the Asian market."
To this end, Roquette and A*STAR's Research institutes have embarked on two research collaborations.
One is a collaboration with the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre to validate the health benefits of dietary fibre for Asians, while the other is a collaboration with A*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute on culture media development for biopharmaceutical applications.
Lim said, "It is our ambition that through such partnerships, we can accelerate innovation to meet nutrition and health challenges."
Established in France over 80 years ago, Roquette has since expanded throughout Europe, as well as to the Americas and Asia. Singapore is its fourth APAC location, after China and South Korea in 2001 and India in 2012.