4S: Sustainable & Social Suppliers' Stories
Have you been to the supermarket recently? If so, you should’ve received 40% more groceries for what you paid.
In Singapore, and many countries in Asia Pacific, supermarkets charge a premium on certain products to cover the cost of “ugly produce” that they receive from their suppliers, but can’t sell.
A love affair with food. Pretty food.
Decisions around what we choose to put into our shopping cart, particularly with respect to raw or fresh produce, are largely affected by cosmetic bias. We take what looks good and feels good, and avoid anything that looks ugly, feels squidgy or is bruised.
Food waste is one of the biggest waste streams in Singapore and it has grown by around 20% over the last 10 years. According to a study released by the Singapore Environment Council, household food waste represents over S$342 million (AU$ 352 million) every year.
“Food waste is an increasing concern in the region. Our network of business and government buyers are actively looking for suppliers tackling food waste, along with e-waste and plastic waste management.”
Naomi Vowels, co-founder of givvable and based in Singapore.
Why is this a problem?
Over 26% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the food industry every year. This is because the processes involved in growing food consumes large amounts of water, energy, land, and other resources. Furthermore, the decomposition of food generates high volumes of carbon dioxide and methane.
If we had more effective food production processes, we would be able to feed the world's increasing population without having to change current food production levels.
Ugly is good, for you and the environment.
UglyFood resells this fresh produce direct to consumers at up to 40% below supermarket prices. The social enterprise also supports community education on food waste through food workshops, food demonstrations, and talks.
Credit: Clean Green Singapore
"In Singapore, we import over 90% of the food consumed in the country. The standards of food imports are high, and consumers have a mindset that ‘ugly’ produce is not safe to consume”.
Pei Shan and Augustine, co-founders of Uglyfood.
A short trip: Journey to the bin.
Fresh produce is perishable and delicate, and often gets blemished while being transported to its final retail destination. With low customer appetite for ‘ugly food’, supermarkets tend to reject and send this produce back to suppliers. With no buyers willing to take on the food, it ends up in landfill.
UglyFood’s mission is to stop this food waste. Not only do they salvage the ‘ugly’ produce and offer it at heavily discounted prices to consumers, but they also repurpose the food into ready-to-eat products such as cakes, juices and popsicles.
The message is clear: Ugly food is safe and delicious to eat.
Beautiful Sorbet Popsicles, made from blemished produce.
“Our food products are beautifully designed and there is no trace that they are made from blemished produce.”
UglyFood is not only about ugly food.
Suppliers sometimes make poor predictions about the demand for fresh produce. This can result in over-importation of products and surplus stock. And while supermarkets and retailers do their best to push sales for their over-supplied products, they inevitably need to find other buyers to take on the excess stock.
Through its network of distribution channels, UglyFood receives this type of produce which it makes available to its customers at discounted prices.
Sustainable Impact: The Zero Waste Packaging Project
UglyFood has partnered with The Sustainability Project Singapore to implement sustainable packaging for its products. The initiative is called Zero Waste Packaging and involves:
- Eliminating the use of single-use packaging;
- Reusing packaging and boxes from suppliers; and
- Encouraging circular use of resources.
How to get UglyFood into your business?
If you’re in charge of stocking your office fridge or pantry, or sending healthy meal options to employees while they are working from home, consider some of these sustainable options from UglyFood:
- Fresh produce welfare packs.
- Regular fresh produce deliveries to your office.
- Non-alcoholic cocktails and traditionally brewed kombucha.
- Gift boxes that come with a mix of local products.
Workshops: Engage in sustainability workshops to educate your workplace about food waste and how to eliminate it.
I work for a company that is environmentally friendly, reduces plastic consumption, or has waste-management processes.
If this sounds like you, then you should be on givvable. It’s a free and efficient way to access buyers in the business and government sectors that want to purchase sustainably.
We welcome suppliers that:
- Are environmentally sustainable;
- Embed circular economy practices;
- Operate a social or ethical enterprise;
- Practice diversity and inclusion; or
- Are a registered non-profit or charity.
A new ecosystem for sustainable and social suppliers
Founded by two sisters, Frances Atkins, and Naomi Vowels, givvable creates a sustainability ecosystem that helps everyday business decisions make impact.
givvable is supported by the Singapore Management University, the University of NSW, the Impact Accelerator and Optus Future Makers.
Ready to get on givvable? Register now!