Going Against The Odds
Editorial Team

Founder of Foodgnostic, Daniel Tay, manages to find a silver lining through the pandemic with some ingenuity and robotic help

Founded in 2013 by award-winning pastry chef Daniel TayFoodgnostic is a food solutions company that offers food innovation, manufacturing and supply services. Driven by high market demand, the company now operates two production facilities producing over 200 products.

Foodgnostic is best known for its cheesecakes, which the company prides to be of consistently high standards, have a distinctly refined taste and are accessibly priced. The cheesecakes are so well-received that Cat & The Fiddle was launched in 2014, a separate business venture that specialises only in cheesecakes.

The signature New York Cheesecake (Image courtesy of Foodgnostic)

Their unique selling point—state-of-the-art food production machinery. As the company employs a significant number of mature workers, the benefits of automating its production processes become more prominent.

With the support of NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) under the Job Re-design Programme, the company invested in a frozen cookie slicer to make work easier, safer and smarter.

In the past, a minimum of six workers were deployed to cut the cookie dough and they had to stand for long hours as the manual process was time-consuming. This resulted in less than ideal productivity levels as well as inconsistency in the quality of their product.

With the new cookie slicer, the workers only need to pour the cookie dough into the machine and the rest is up to the cutter. This frees up workers to take on other tasks. The machine also ensures each cookie is of the same shape and weight or can even be programmed to produce cookies of different shapes and sizes. Relatively simple to operate, the cookie slicer requires minimal training making it easy for workers to get the hang of.

During Covid-19, it became evident that automation in food manufacturing was a step in the right direction. By allocating tasks to machines, it reduces the need for direct human contact when handling food products ensuring better food safety.

Without the use of machinery, workers performed their jobs manually in the past (Image courtesy of Foodgnostic)

Technology similarly plays an important role in the company’s retail business. In response to the pandemic, Foodgnostic used Facebook Live videos to engage more customers. It turned out to be a great success as the videos garnered a significant number of views and shares. Business has since improved as they continue to grow their online presence.

Tay shares that being able to not just stay afloat but thrive amidst Covid-19 is one of the company’s biggest milestones. They’ve managed to keep all workers employed and offered incentives to some as a token of appreciation for their service during this trying period.

When it comes to crisis management, he adds that it is important for start-ups and Small to Medium Enterprises to “be prudent and work with the landlords to lower operation costs” so business remains sustainable and profitable.

He also advises business owners to share the savings from reducing operation costs with their employees as it will bring about higher levels of employee satisfaction and productivity.

Things look optimistic for Tay, as he believes that the business has great potential for growth once the economy recovers. He looks forward to expanding in both the food manufacturing industry and in retail; in addition to strengthening their online presence, he also has plans to open more brick-and-mortar outlets and expects a hiring surge moving forward.

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