Entrepreneurial by nature, Claire started ShiokFarm in 2015 when realising the high prices for organic fruit and vegetables in Singapore. Based on the French AMAP model, in which Farmers and a community create a partnership in order to reduce food waste and cost, ShiokFarm aims to provide families and offices in Singapore with affordable organic fruit and vegetables while reducing food waste. Starting with a small Facebook group, Claire has succeeded in making ShiokFarm an outstanding organic business.
ShiokFarm was created in 2015 to bring affordable and traceable organic fruit & vegetables to families in Singapore. ShiokFarm partners with farms and commits to buy their harvest. The produces are then split among our members through different weekly bags, curated to our members' needs.
Most of the farms ShiokFarm partners with are located in Thailand and Malaysia. To allow variety in the bags, ShiokFarm occasionally brings produce from Australia.
We work mainly with nearby countries and bring in produces by truck. Indeed, the carbon footprint to bring produces by plane is very high. If we take the example of a family that eats 10kg of organic fruit and vegetables every week flown in to Singapore by plane from Australia, this family will need to plant three trees every year to offset the carbon footprint generated by the flights of their produces. These trees will have to grow for 40 years. If you bring in your fresh produces from Thailand by truck (which is what ShiokFarm does), then the family will have to plant a tree every ten years.
Whenever we look at a new partner, we check a few things:
- their organic certification
- what is the carbon footprint to bring in produces from their farm
- their packaging
- their motivation to grow organic food
Our main difficulty was to make people change their habits. This required a mix of patience and determination.
Our farms in Thailand used to send us their produces with everything wrapped in plastic. It took me a good 6 months to make them stop doing so.
It took me 4 years to make them use trucks to bring produces down from Thailand.
We are happy to have funny looking vegetables/fruit. This is still a challenge and most of the time, they would not send us these not perfect looking produces.
It is very human to resist change, but I think it is very important to understand why people are resisting. In the farms cases it was because plastic helps maintain the freshness of produces longer. And airplanes bring the goods in a few hours, when it takes two days to a truck to come down from Thailand. Farmers biggest fear is to have us complain about freshness issues. We did a lot of trials, a few fails, but now it works.
Our entire model is based on saving food waste, it is one of ShiokFarm's main goal. We commit with farmers, our members commit with us. Giving a much needed visibility to farmers allows to save a lot on food waste.
To avoid packaging waste, we try to reduce them to the minimum and we then donate our cartons and foam boxes to charities or other farms, whenever possible. We regularly advertise them on social networks and people drive up to our warehouse to pick some up.
Our community and our hosts. We distribute our bags to our community through a network of collection points. These collection points are hosted by people who want to support our project and their community. ShiokFarm is only possible thanks to its community of like-minded people who believe that their consumption choice has an impact on the environment and decided to act upon it.
I am not sure I am qualified enough to give advices, but I can share what worked for me. :)
1. Ask for help. Do not hesitate to ask for people's input. Join networks of people who are trying to have an impact. People are usually happy to help, especially if your project is a positive one. One day, someone will ask you for help and it will be your turn. It is all a big wheel.
2. Get a coach. Sharing, exchanging ideas will allow you to go much further and faster than if you do things by yourself.
3. Be patient: it is a long road.
I am happy to discuss their project and see how I can help them. I now have a bit of experience with logistics and community building.
Claire kindly accepts to answer your questions.
If you need additional insights, you can send her a message.