The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) works to promote innovation and advancement in food technology (FoodTech) to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the industry. To that end, it has launched a Future FoodTech Lab to showcase new cutting-edge food processing technologies, some of which have won international research awards.
The Hong Kong SAR Government’s Commissioner for Innovation and Technology and the Chairman of HKPC presided over the opening. Food industry leaders were also invited to share their ideas on the development of FoodTech during the opening ceremony to encourage their industry colleagues to engage in advanced manufacturing and promote reindustrialization in Hong Kong.
HKPC’s Future FoodTech Lab is Hong Kong’s first-ever FoodTech prototype display platform. Showcasing advanced FoodTech at various stages of the food supply chain, Future FoodTech Lab provides a platform for site visits and technology testing for the industry.
Lab technologies will be updated regularly to keep the food industry abreast of the latest technological developments. At present, the lab displays food processing technologies developed by HKPC, including pressure-assisted ultrasonic thawing technology, high-pressure disinfection technology, CAPfresh – A cold atmosphere plasma disinfection technology that game changer for fresh food and liquid cooling technology.
The Hong Kong SAR Government’s Innovation and Technology Commissioner noted that regarding technology support, HKPC provides a showcase platform for industry to learn about new technologies in the food sector. In terms of funding, the Innovation and Technology Commission’s Reindustrialization Funding (RFS) program provides grants to manufacturers, on a 1:2 matching basis (government:company), to set up new intelligent production lines in Hong Kong. Funding for each project is capped at HK$15 million.
She added that RFS provides material assistance to local manufacturers, helping them to move towards high value-added production and transition to Industry 4.0. Industry players are encouraged to leverage government support for technology, capital and infrastructure to upgrade and transform in the process of “re-industrialization” to achieve greater success.
Meanwhile, the chairman of HKPC said the establishment of the Future FoodTech Lab is a milestone for the development of the food industry. HKPC hopes to encourage the food industry to embrace advanced manufacturing and promote reindustrialization in Hong Kong.
The majority of the food processing technologies featured are ‘Hong Kong firsts’ or even ‘world leaders’. For example, CAPfresh – A Game Changing Cold Atmospheric Plasma Disinfection Technology for Fresh Food was recognized at the 2022 R&D 100 Awards in the United States. This proves that Hong Kong’s R&D capabilities are world-class.
The official added that HKPC will continue to respond to industry needs and provide appropriate support in the areas of technology, talent and capital, and promote the commercialization of R&D results. In the long run, this will help the food industry expand to the Greater Bay Area and overseas markets, allowing the “Made in Hong Kong” brand to shine on the international stage.
The director of one of the companies in the lab said the company hopes to expand its products to nearby cities and even overseas markets, but this has been limited by production capacity and shelf life. The intelligent production line, set up with the help of HKPC, can effectively solve the above problems.
Besides greatly increasing the production capacity, it also improves the sterilization process. Sterilization parameters such as temperature, pressure, time, etc. are collected and monitored by intelligent sensors, which not only prolong the service life of the machine, but also ensure the reliability and stability of sterilization and improve product quality and safety. Without the use of additives and preservatives, it is expected that the shelf life can be extended effectively.
Then the general manager of another manufacturer said that the traditional production process of fresh egg liquid needs to be done manually and cannot effectively increase productivity. With smart production, the production capacity can be increased by 2-3 times. At the same time, labor, production time and human error will be reduced. Staff can also be reassigned to handle high-tech jobs, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Smart production will also help diversify our business from B2B retail to B2C retail.
Apart from technical assistance, HKPC also actively helps companies identify suitable government funding programs to subsidize them to set up smart production lines locally. The above enterprise solutions have successfully applied or are currently applying for the HKSAR Government Innovation and Technology Commission’s Reindustrialization Funding Program to help further reduce production costs and increase profitability.