Tuesday 20 January 2015

Subsidies for food operators using healthier ingredients

By Matthias Tay, TODAY, 19 Jan 2015

Food cooked using healthier ingredients, such as oil with a lower saturated fat content, could be readily available soon, with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) making it cheaper for eateries to turn to these options.

From today, suppliers bringing in healthier cooking oil — those with no more than 35 per cent saturated fat — will get subsidies of 50 cents per kilogramme under the first phase of the Healthier Ingredient Subsidy Scheme. The subsidised amount, derived by the HPB after consulting both industry members and experts, will be reviewed every six months.

Over the next three years, the subsidies will be extended to other ingredients, such as whole-grain noodles, wholemeal bread and brown rice. The quantum of subsidies for these ingredients has not been fixed yet. By closing the price gap between healthier and regular ingredients, the hope is that it will fuel the demand for healthier options among consumers, said HPB chief executive officer Zee Yoong Kang.

“As more consumers start to demand such ingredients, there will be a natural and stronger tendency for the market to meet the needs and when that happens and it is ingrained, the Government can gradually move away from giving subsidies,” he said.

Under the scheme, wholesalers must submit an audit report every six months as proof that the full subsidy is reflected in their invoices to eateries. This is to ensure cost savings are passed on to consumers. Food outlets that use these ingredients will also be issued Healthier Choice decals by the HPB by the middle of this year. Commercial cooking oil suppliers told TODAY the subsidies will encourage more eateries to switch to healthier options.

Mr Christopher Pang, a senior commercial manager with Aceford Food Industry, said 80 per cent of the company’s clientele uses regular cooking oil. With the subsidy, the company expects half of these clients to choose healthier cooking oil.

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