Noodles from competitors delivered together

Noodle manufacturer Leong Guan saves $4,000 a month by leveraging on its competitor Jia Jia Wang's trucks to deliver noodles to customers in the same hawker centres.

"We're able to save time and costs," said Leong Guan's executive secretary Christine Lai.

"We also don't have to worry about manpower and finding drivers."

The food industry needs such collaborations so that companies can improve productivity and stay competitive globally, said Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang on Wednesday.

"On their own, our companies may be too small and lack the economies of scale to innovate and invest in new technology," he said.

He suggested three areas in which companies can work together: product development, sharing facilities and internationalisation.

The Government is exploring the development of a multi-user food hub to help companies share facilities, he added.

Mr Lim was speaking at the inaugural Food Productivity Conference, where he also gave updates on the food services and food manufacturing productivity plans launched in 2011.

More than 850 food companies have embarked on productivity and service upgrading projects since the launch.

The Food Automation Unit, launched in October last year to help companies automate their processes, has reached out to over 170 food manufacturers and there are 10 projects in the pipeline.

Spring Singapore's deputy chief executive Ted Tan said restaurants could outsource the preparation of their non-core products to food manufacturers and focus on their specialties.

Food manufacturers could share their transport vehicles but this would require a mindset change on their part, Mr Tan said.

"Some of the food manufacturers do not want their competitors to know where they're delivering to but actually, logistics companies can deliver without sharing such information," he added.

"With constraints on foreign workers and land, there's a different model (that companies can adopt)."

Leong Guan's Ms Lai, 36, said her company started sending their wholemeal yellow noodles and brown rice kway teow to the nearby Jia Jia Wang last year, so their noodles could be delivered together to over 50 points islandwide.

The companies also tapped Spring Singapore's capability development grant to defray some logistical costs.

"We're open to working with other companies in similar ways. This programme has helped us greatly," she added.

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