The farm-to-table concept is very popular in West Malaysia as we have several startups using this model, such as B. Tiny Greens, The Farm Foodcraft, Garden To Table PJ and more.
In Sabah, however, it is much less.
When a team of 4 Sabahans saw the opportunity to get a head start in the e-grocer scene, they decided to disrupt the market using the farm-to-table concept.
With the experience of running private farms and resorts for nearly a decade, this team founded Nutribah in late April 2020.
They wanted to consolidate and innovate their existing private resources into a single platform that is more accessible to the public in Sabahan.
Typically, products sold by most e-grocers change hands frequently.
It goes from the farm to the middlemen and on to the retailers before it reaches consumers.
With so many involved, food safety 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 get directly to consumers without the involvement of external parties.
In this way, they can maintain their accessibility, affordability, and quality control.
It's also a strategy that sets them apart from other Sabahan e-grocers like Swasana Hijau, Green-Os, and Dream Farm.
The name Nutribah is derived from the combination of the word "Nutritious & Sabah", where "bah" is local dialect / slang.
Maintain good relationships with consumers
Preston Sean Soh, Executive Director of Nutribah believes that the key to success in the current digital age is consumer focus.
"Treat them with empathy, sincerity, generosity, and transparency," he said.
Nutribah understands consumer demand for sustainable and nutritious products and ensures that the products are free from antibiotics, chemicals and pesticides.
When it comes to farming sustainability, Nutribah relies on the IoT-based smart farming system that uses more technology than manpower.
This allows them to control and monitor the environment of their farms with sensors that display the moisture level, amount of light, temperature, soil pH, etc. to ensure healthy plant growth.
Once an order is placed, they immediately harvest the specific products from the farm, clean them, check the quality, pack them within 15 minutes and deliver them.
By managing its own fleet system, Nutribah also has full control over deliveries to ensure efficiency.
Nutriman in action / Photo Credit: Preston Sean Soh
"This allows us to move forward quickly without having to forego long delays which can affect the freshness of our organic products and allow customers to get the products as quickly as possible," said Preston.
Remaining adaptable to any bump in the road
Some problems with this system could be due to changes in weather during the day.
Since Sabah is prone to heavy rain and even causes flash floods in some areas, it can sometimes disrupt the delivery process.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for their drivers or drivers (known as Nutriman) to have the exact location of rural areas without signing or registering the card to ensure a smooth delivery.
While Nutribah is trying its best to stay adaptable to the ever changing marketplace, one challenge they are currently facing is the adaptability of the Sabahans who go online.
To catalyze this, the team set up offline booths and participated in local pop-up markets to raise awareness of e-grocers among the target group.
Nutribah's S-Bundle of Fresh Food / Photo credit: Preston Sean Soh
So far, they had 1,500 orders in September and 2,000 orders in early October. They have also expanded internally and now have a team of 15.
Essentially, the long game for Nutribah is to drive sustainable development in Sabah through digitization.
How are you going to achieve that? By reaching and engaging with more Sabah farmers and sharing IoT smart farming technologies.
Aside from that, they are also ready to provide these farmers with their marketing platform to efficiently market their products.
They also want to encourage the Sabahans to go cashless and put Sabah's value-added downstream organic production on the world map.
- You can find out more about Nutribah here.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured image source: Preston Sean Soh, founder of Nutribah