AGSC 2021: The Grand Finals and Beyond
Minister of State for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Alvin Tan, shared that for Singaporeans, “Eating is our favourite national pastime”, and that Singaporeans are not just great eaters, but have over time become “great food manufacturers too”.
Mr Tan also highlighted the role win-win partnerships between companies, entrepreneurs and the government have played in advancing the development of the snack subsector. The AGSC is a good example of how the government and partners in the ecosystem have come together to nurture and develop budding snack entrepreneurs:
- The AGSC and the finalists have benefitted from the mentorship of established brands such as Tong Garden, Mr Bean, Polar Puffs & Cakes and Haidilao.
- Companies like KH Roberts, Tolaram, Nestle, and Khong Guan Biscuits sponsored the prizes to advance the development of new snack brands.
- SATS offered their expertise in packaging design and marketing.
- The Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC), a joint enterprise between Singapore Polytechnic and Enterprise Singapore (Enterprise SG), played a big role in supporting the finalists’ product development.
- Retail partners, Fairprice Group and Lazada/Redmart, will be supporting the finalists in testing their products’ sales and market through their online platforms and channels.
Judges of AGSC also shared what they thought made a good snack; what type of snacks they were looking out for; how the contestants have grown since their entrance to the competition; and what they would be looking out for during the competition. Given the diversity of the judges’ background, what they looked out for spanned a variety of considerations – including taste, concept, market potential, packaging and design as well as commercial scalability and viability.
The finalists pitched their products and underwent the taste tests, subject to the judges’ exacting palate. Even in a quick Q&A after all the pitches, the judges displayed no signs of preferences, leading up to a truly nail-biting finale.
After a grueling deliberation, two winners emerged. Wok Puffs, creator of puffed rice snacks inspired by Asian flavours, was crowned the winner of the Open Category, while ArdensBake, maker of artisanal sourdough seeded crackers, took home the winning title of the Startup Category. The winners each received S$10,000 and can further collaborate with their corporate partners to commercialise the products after the competition.
The finalists will also get the chance to shop test their products at Food Folks @ Lau Pa Sat and Redmart (retailing from 12 January 2022). Congratulations once again to the deserving winners and all the finalists, for making it this far, and for your hard work and contribution to Singapore’s food scene!
Mr Wong Ah Yoke, Senior Food Correspondent at Singapore Press Holdings and one of the judges of AGSC 2021, commended Wok Puffs on the flexibility of their product, noting that the product has the potential of not just being a snack, but also as a condiment or accompaniment for dishes like pao fan. Overall, the judges were greatly impressed by the passion, innovative spirit, creativity and high standards of the finalists and the winners.
The experience has also been rewarding not just for the finalists, but also their mentors. Ms Ong Sue Hwee, Product Development Director at Tong Garden, said that it was “always nice to chat with like-minded people… I wanted to share our experiences and insights with these snack entrepreneurs to help them scale up their processes, so that they can proudly see their creations for sale on the supermarket shelves.”
In a similar vein, Sreenivas Saba, co-founder of Uncle Saba’s, said that “I received a lot of help and support in my own journey and I strongly believe in paying it forward and helping others who are starting out.”
Far from being just an open innovation challenge, the AGSC played a key role in developing and leading the finalists to success. The finalists underwent an incubation programme involving the FIRC and mentoring from corporate partners, as well as lessons on design thinking, go-to-market strategy, branding & marketing, packaging innovation and financing, from ESG and partners.
Stay tuned for the next edition of the AGSC soon! Head to the Lazada Singapore website or mobile app from 12 January 2022 to shop these innovative new snacks!