SINGAPORE: Inflight meal caterer SATS is boosting its overall food production by 14 per cent, with a S$25 million facility that launched on Monday (Mar 11).
Located at Changi North Crescent, the expanded facility will have a gross floor area of 60,000 sq m. This will increase the company’s production to 120,000 meals daily.
SATS produces 170 million meals a year over 35 locations in Asia. About a quarter of its business comes from non-aviation catering, but it aims to increase this as it sees a growing demand for food-related services across Asia.
“Although we are the market leader in aviation catering and will continue to lead that segment in Asia, what we see as an adjacent big opportunity, is being the central kitchen for the food service chains as they expand in the big cities across Asia,” said SATS president and CEO, Mr Alex Hungate.
Part of that strategy is to produce tastier and more nutritious meals without the use of preservatives. Its latest ready-to-eat meals have a shelf life of six to 24 months and do not require refrigeration.
The company said it is the first in Asia to use pasteurisation and sterilisation technology, which can maintain the taste, texture and nutritional properties better than conventional sterilisation methods.
"For too long, the food industry has been observing large-scale manufacturing, and using preservatives and additives," said Mr Hungate. "We have sacrificed the healthiness and quality of what our consumers are eating.
"Using new food tech, we still manage to do large-scale, but don't need preservatives and additives."
On the menu are dishes like baked fragrant chicken rice, Ancient Treasures and beef bourguignon developed by SATS’s team of food technologists, dietitians and chefs.
Scoot will be the first airline to introduce some of the new meals in June this year.
The new facility will be driven by automation and data-driven analytics, reducing cooking time and manual labour. For example, it has an automated rice line that can cook 4,000 portions per hour with just a three-man team. In the past, it required about eight workers.
An Autofryer is also used to enable cooking of food in large batches. Now, 60kg of fried rice can be prepared in just half an hour, as compared to the previous 90 minutes.
SATS also uses digital twin technology to help simulate different production scenarios to optimise its kitchen resources.
The company introduced these new technologies with the help of funds from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. It also made sure that the staff were not made redundant by training them to use the new equipment, with the help of Workforce Singapore.