David Tan and his team mulled over their revenue for the first quarter of 2020, the lowest in their more than 45 years of business, through a virtual meeting at the start of Singapore’s circuit breaker in April. It seemed like there was no end in sight for the raging COVID-19 pandemic in both local and overseas markets as food operations slowed down tremendously, recalled Par International Holdings’ CEO. 2020 undeniably accelerated the need to explore and operationalise new revenue streams that could potentially diversify their business, while remaining environmentally friendly and relevant today.

Par International Holdings Pte Ltd, a local food commodities and ingredients supplier, has been actively engaging IPI over the last few years to discuss about tapping into new technologies related to alternative proteins and food processing methods that were posted on its Innovation Marketplace. The impending threat of economic instability expedited some of Par International Holdings’ ongoing discussions, including the decision to engage IPI’s Innovation Advisors Programme for more expertise and to strengthen their business portfolio. Tan revealed, “Open innovation has transformed Par International from an ingredient supplier to a supply chain solutions provider.”

Mastering bilingualism in technology and business with IPI Innovation Advisors

IPI’s Innovation Advisor Dr Rebecca Lian was introduced to Par International Holdings in November 2020 as they were interested to upcycle spent grains into high-protein and high-fibre products. Following a deep dive into the ingredient formulation and equipment involved in this process, Dr Lian elaborated and advised on the technologies, capital expenditures, value proposition and market potentials of the various upcycled products. One of the biggest operational challenges for Par International Holdings was how to efficiently handle high volumes of spent grains that they will receive from their partner, a leading food manufacturer.

For SMEs to pivot and transform, they require multiple sets of know-how – from market relevancy, product knowledge and technologies, as well as operation challenges. With their extensive industry experience, IPI’s Innovation Advisors can shorten these businesses’ project runway. “Through small and simple steps, we hope to empower local food SMEs to explore new technologies and methods to gain a stronger global footprint,” Dr Lian shared

With Dr Lian’s deep understanding of the science behind this aspect of valorisation and her prior experience with the industry, coupled with Par International Holdings’ openness and commitment to follow through with this project, initial trials have been conducted for the high-intensity repurposing of spent grains with their partner within three months after their first meeting. Through this open innovation collaboration, Par International Holdings’ revenue is projected to double at the group level over the next three years.

Tan shared their business transformation journey with IPI, “Par International has linked up with institutes of higher learning as well as IPI’s Innovation Advisor for three different projects!”

About the Featured IPI Innovation Advisor, Dr Rebecca Lian

Dr Rebecca Lian is a veteran and expert in the food industry and presently holds the position as Head of Applied Food Research Centre at C-SAW (Centre for the Spread of Affordable Wellness) as well as Innovation Advisor with IPI. She was also recently appointed as an Adjunct Assoc Professor at the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at Nanyang Technological University. 

About the IPI Innovation Advisors Programme

IPI instituted its Innovation Advisors Programme, in partnership with ESG, in late 2019 to enable business transformation among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as they embark on product, process or business model advancements. A pool of Innovation Advisors, who are experienced industry professionals with strong technology expertise, connections and business acumen, will be able to help these companies achieve accelerated growth.