Alchemy Foodtech Created ‘Fibre’ That Makes Rice, Noodles Healthier

It’s no news that Singaporeans are huge foodies.

However, the delicacies of our favorite hawker centers and the much-loved fast food are not exactly healthy. They are mostly loaded with carbohydrates and can be harmful to our long term health, with diabetes being one of the main causes.

In fact, a few years ago, Singapore declared war on diabetes, calling the disease one of the biggest drains in the local healthcare system.

During the 2016 Appropriations Committee debates in Parliament, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong even said that nearly one million people in Singapore will be living with diabetes by 2050.

It was an issue close to his heart for Alan Phua, co-founder of food technology company Alchemy Foodtech. In fact, it was personal contact with diabetes that led to the creation of the startup.

The inspiration of the founders: a family’s war on diabetes

Verleen Goh and Alan Phua, founders of foodtech alchemy
Verleen Goh (left) and Alan Phua (right), co-founders of Alchemy Foodtech

A story of diabetes in Alan’s family motivated him and his co-founder, Verleen Goh, to create a solution that could keep people healthy, while still allowing them to enjoy their favorite foods.

Alan shared in an interview with Vulcan Post that his two grandmothers died of complications from diabetes. All of her mother’s siblings are also diabetic.

The Singapore Management University (SMU) graduate experienced first-hand how difficult it is to persuade loved ones to eat healthier.

He then wondered if there was a better way for people to enjoy their favorite food while staying healthy.

I really wanted to see real solutions to help people stay healthy while enjoying food. I saw firsthand that this is a problem. We know that it is difficult for people to give up their favorite foods, especially rice or sugary drinks.

Alan Phua, co-founder and CEO of Alchemy Foodtech

This problem is in addition to the fact that the number of people with or at risk of diabetes is constantly increasing. Some might think that diabetes only affects the elderly or that it is a “rich man’s disease”.

However, this is no longer the case.

According to Alan, the fastest growing group of people who develop diabetes are in their 30s to 40s, and diabetes “can affect anyone,” from middle class to middle age.

Alan further cited a Harvard study that found the world to lose $ 1.4 trillion annually to diabetes. To put it in perspective, Google is worth about $ 700 billion US, and diabetes causes the world two “Googles” a year.

Make white rice again

white rice with alchemy fibers
Alchemy Fiber / Image credit: Alchemy Foodtech

After nearly four years of research and development, Alchemy Foodtech released its first product, Alchemy Fiber, last month.

The product helps to lower the glycemic index (GI) of carbohydrates, thus preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar.

It is also rich in dietary fiber and prebiotics, which increases the fiber content of its diet and boosts immunity.

Through research and innovation, the team managed to identify the winning combination of ingredients of natural origin such as peas, corn, tapioca, tuber roots, beans and legumes, which make up Alchemy Fiber.

Alchemy Fiber comes in various blends and is an ingredient that can be added to carbohydrates like rice or noodles – without altering the taste and texture of the food.

This represents a revolutionary solution to help Singaporeans fight diabetes and other health problems.

From chicken rice to Thai and Korean cuisine

Alchemy Foodtech has an online store where customers can directly purchase Alchemy Fiber. They are also stocked in various ecommerce stores such as Lazada and Shopee.

In addition to selling directly to the consumer, Alchemy has also partnered with various restaurant outlets to get them to use Alchemy Fiber in their dishes.

Their partners range from heirloom brands like Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice and Yum Cha, to Thai cuisine like Bangkok Jam and Korean cuisine like Ahjumma’s.

Chicken rice boon tong kee fiber alchemy
Image Credit: Boon Tong Kee via Facebook

[Rice] is also the most sensitive to trying to change cultures – older people won’t respond well if you try to ask them to eat less rice, or sometimes even switch to brown rice.

With Alchemy Fiber, there is no need to modify diets to get the low GI benefits.

Verleen Goh, Co-Founder and Head of Food Fighter at Alchemy Foodtech, in an interview with Food Navigator

Using Alchemy Fiber also means that brands don’t have to change their manufacturing processes to produce healthier products, indicating a win-win situation for consumers and brands.

According to Verleen, co-founder and chef of Food Fighter, the application of Alchemy Fiber is broad and can even be used in kuehs, desserts and cookies.

On a mission to make all carbohydrates healthier

To date, Alchemy has raised a total of $ 3.5 million in funding, including $ 2.5 million in a pre-Series A round.

It also won S $ 200,000 in the 2018 Slingshot @ Switch start-up competition hosted by Startup SG and Enterprise Singapore.

alchemy slingshot
Alchemy received S $ 200,000 for winning the Slingshot @ Switch 2018 / Image credit: Enterprise SG

Sharing its future business plans, Alchemy Foodtech announced plans to launch a wider range of other GI reducing products, including solutions for other staple carbohydrates such as noodles and bread.

When Covid-19 hit, many restaurants were forced to close and many people began to prepare their own food at home.

The Alchemy team then set out to create consumer products that could be easily used for healthier homemade meals.

In the coming months, Alchemy will launch baking premixes for cookies, cakes and brownies, which contain Alchemy Fiber.

The husband and wife team is also working with food manufacturers such as Gardenia and Kang Kang noodle producer Tan Seng Kee Foods to create healthier versions of their products.

The team also has its eyes on foreign markets. Alan shared that some of the team’s immediate plans include integrating international investors and developing plans for key markets overseas.

“A lot of people try to eat a healthier diet, but they can’t keep it up. So we come from a sustainable health perspective to make it easier for them, ”said Alan.

Featured Image Credit: SALT Magazine, Food Navigator

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Jothi Venkat

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