Farm-To-Table E-Grocer Startup In Sabah

The farm-to-table concept is very popular in West Malaysia as several startups use this model, such as Tiny Greens, The Farm Foodcraft, Garden To Table PJ, etc.

In Sabah, on the other hand, it is much less.

Seeing the opportunity to get a head start in the e-grocery scene there, a team of 4 Sabahans decided to disrupt the market using the farm-to-table concept.

With nearly a decade of experience managing private farms and resorts, this team formed Nutribah at the end of April 2020.

They wanted to consolidate and innovate their existing private resources into a single platform that would be more accessible to the public of Sabahan.

Usually, the products sold by most e-grocers change hands a lot.

It goes from farm to middleman, then to retailers before it reaches consumers.

With so many people involved, food security could be at risk, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The founders of Nutribah / Image credit: Nutribah

On the other hand, Nutribah ensures that its products are sent directly to consumers with no external parties involved.

This way, they are able to maintain their affordability, affordability as well as quality control.

It’s also a strategy that sets them apart from other Sabahan online grocery stores like Swasana Hijau, Green-Os, and Dream Farm.

The name Nutribah derives from the combination of the word “Nutritious & Sabah”, “bah” being the local dialect / slang.

Cultivate good relations with consumers

Preston Sean Soh, Executive Director of Nutribah, believes the key to success in today’s digital age is being consumer-centric.

“Treat them with empathy, sincerity, generosity and transparency,” he said.

As they understand consumer demand for sustainable and nutritious products, Nutribah ensures that its products are free of antibiotics, chemicals and pesticides.

When it comes to the sustainability of their farming, Nutribah embraces the IoT-based smart farming system that uses more technology than labor.

In this way, they can control and monitor the environment of their farms with sensors indicating humidity level, amount of light, temperature, soil pH level, etc., to ensure healthy crop growth. .

Once an order arrives, they will immediately harvest the specific product from the farm, clean, check the quality, package it within 15 minutes and deliver it.

By managing its own in-house fleet system, Nutribah also has full control over deliveries to ensure its efficiency.

Nutriman in action / Image credit: Preston Sean Soh

“This allows us to go fast without having to sacrifice a long lead time in between, which can compromise the freshness of our organic products and allow customers to receive the products on time,” Preston said.

Remain adaptable to all the bumps in the road

Some hiccups they face with this system may be due to weather changes during the day.

As Sabah is prone to heavy downpours, even leading to flash floods in some areas, this can sometimes disrupt the delivery process.

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for their drivers or riders (called Nutriman) to get the precise location of rural areas without signage or card registration for smooth delivery.

While Nutribah does its best to remain adaptable to an ever-changing market, one challenge they currently face is the adaptability of Sabahans online.

To catalyze this, the team set up offline kiosks and participated in local pop-up markets to raise target audience awareness of online grocers.

Nutribah S Size Fresh Grocery Bundle / Image Credit: Preston Sean Soh

To date, they have reached 1,500 orders in September and 2,000 orders in early October. They have also developed internally and now have a team of 15 people.

What’s next in store?

In essence, the long game for Nutribah is to lead sustainable development in Sabah through digitization.

How do they plan to achieve this? By reaching out and engaging with more rural farmers in Sabah and sharing smart IoT agriculture technologies with them.

That being said, they are also ready to provide their marketing platform to these farmers in order to effectively market their products.

They also want to encourage the Sabahans to switch to cashless and put value-added organic production downstream from Sabah on the global map.

  • You can read more about Nutribah here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Preston Sean Soh, Founder of Nutribah

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Jothi Venkat

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