SINGAPORE — Cargill opened its first innovation center in Singapore with a goal to help customers anticipate market forces and shifting consumer values around tastes, nutrition and food safety.

The innovation center in Singapore will employ 20 food scientists by the end of 2019.

“Consumers in Asia Pacific want healthy and nutritious food and drinks but do not want to compromise on taste, quality and affordability,” said Peter Van Deursen, president of Cargill’s global starches, sweeteners and texturizers business. “Our new innovation center in Singapore will allow us to collaborate more closely with our customers in this region to create and reformulate products that better suit these changing consumer trends.”

Cargill said the center connects its customers in the Asia Pacific region to a global network of 10 other innovation centers and 2,000 food scientists.

“In order to stay ahead, businesses will have to develop products that are tailored to the evolving needs and preferences of Asian consumers,” Koh Poh Koon, senior minister of State for Trade and Industry. “Singapore, with its extensive regional connectivity, strong research base and clustering of innovation activities, is well positioned for companies such as Cargill to harness the growth opportunities in Asia.”

The opening ceremony was attended by Poh Koon and senior representatives from Enterprise Singapore, the Economic Development Board, Singapore Food Agency and the U.S. Embassy, joined by Cargill employees, partners and customers. It included a tour and sampling of the innovative products that included healthier chili sauces with natural sweetness, yogurt drinks with fruit and vegetable extracts, and bite sized wafers with low trans-fatty acids chocolate coating.

Cargill already has two innovation centers in the region, specifically in Beijing and Shanghai. The company said it chose Singapore for its third center due to its location and the government’s focus on building the country as a global innovation hub.