Collaboration between the Government and the private sector is needed to develop “an integrated and holistic approach to policy formulation and implementation” to ensure food security, according to Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) CEO Ms Tan Poh Hong.

Speaking at the AVA Food Industry Convention on 10 October, Ms Tan emphasised that “food security cannot be driven solely by the government” and highlighted the “major role” that the industry has to play in the formulation and implementation of food policies to ensure Singapore’s continued “access to safe and nutritious food”.

Held for the first time this year, the convention was part of Singapore’s observance of World Food Day and was attended by food industry experts and advisors from across Asia. It provided a platform to exchange and share insights on global trends and developments in food security, as well as the risks and opportunities for the food industry.

FIA Policy Director, Melanie Vilarasau Slade, agrees that the collaboration between the industry and the public sector is vital to providing access to high quality food.

“Sustainable access to high quality food across the region is reliant upon a supportive trade environment in the region. We rely on other countries to supplement our local demand for food. As a result, policy makers and industry have to work together to ensure food is available and accessible where it is needed most.

“Technical barriers to trade, such as differing product standards and certification, impede intra- and extra-regional trade by adding costs and complexities to the food production processes. However, a set of common food standards, developed through public-private collaboration, will help ensure the availability of safe and high quality food to the region’s population.

Ms Vilarasau Slade added that the ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA) was established earlier this year to enhance public and private collaboration in the harmonisation of food standards.

“AFBA will work with the public sector to drive greater harmonisation in food standards particularly in areas such as nutrition labelling and product registration. By simply aligning these standards, across ASEAN countries, policy-makers can increase the trade of high quality food delivering greater choice and access to consumers.

“This is a highly technical process, which is why public-private collaboration is so important, however once achieved it will deliver a significant amount of value to economies, industries and communities in the region.”

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