Singapore's food industry has grown quite rapidly in the last five years despite labor shortages, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Friday.
"The labor market will remain tight. The supply of land will also remain tight. And the food industry is also increasingly crowded...and highly competitive, with many establishments being formed in recent years, despite the labour shortage," Tharman said.
"We therefore have to go for quality growth in the food industry, not volume growth. Just like for our economy as a whole, " he added.
Singapore has tightened its foreign labor policies in recent years to push for a restructuring and upgrading of its economy, with some of the labor intensive industries complaining of a manpower shortage.
Tharman said that a new Partnerships for Capability Transformation project for the food industry will be launched.
The project, which is between Unilever Food Solutions and the Restaurant Association of Singapore, will help local restaurateurs in areas such as menu planning and high volume production cooking.
George Quek, chairman of the BreadTalk Group, a chain bakery that has expanded fast in recent years in Singapore as well as China and Malaysia, also said that the service industries need to overcome the challenge by developing the existing workforce.
"So we need to develop our existing workforce, our older workers, to help them learn new skills, improve and become more productive," local broadcaster Channel NewsAsia quoted Quek as saying.
"Another important piece is to tap on talent from the local educational institutions, such as the ITE (Institute of Technical Education)," he said.