New start-ups aiming to make Singapore as the first food sustainable city

PC: Unsplash/Carissa Gan

9 in 10 Singaporeans are concerned with food waste, yet hardly no one is doing anything about it. A survey from the National Environment Agency showed that an average Singaporean generates 140kg of food waste a year, an equivalent of throwing two bowls of rice in the trash every day.

Is this because Singaporeans deem food sustainability as something far-fetched and unattainable?

Food waste has risen by an appalling 50% from 2005 to 2014, mounting to a gruesome 788,600 tonnes of food waste per year in the little red dot. While this figure has since dropped by 0.39% in 2016, a mere 0.39% drop belies a fact that there is still much room for improvement.

Just last month, Channel News Asia announced Singapore Airline’s effort to incorporate more sustainable ingredients in its in-flight meals to promoting environmental sustainability and support for local farmers.

While corporate businesses are inching to be more environmentally conscious, Singapore start-ups are taking it up a notch, with many championing food sustainability at the forefront of their businesses, tackling the problem of national food waste on a much larger scale.

Makanpreneur- Southeast Asia’s first Food Sustainability Accelerator was launched on the 18 November 2017. Four innovative food start-ups were selected, out of sixteen applications, for a four-month training programme by UNFRAMED in partnership with Croeni Foundation, National Youth Council, and FoodXervices. The accelerator program aims to help tech start-ups addressing food sustainability challenges to scale their impact, by offering comprehensive support including rigorous training, coaching programs, funding and the largest impact-network in Singapore.

So what are these start-ups looking at, to improve food sustainability in Singapore?

Some Makanpreneur start-ups are fostering local food production looking to make Singapore -the first food-resilient country, a real challenge, given its land scarcity. Ecolution looks at the next-generation of polyculture farms, where smart precision agriculture technologies are implemented in farming multiple crops in the same space. FarmX has developed a full Internet-of-Things (IOT) system including sensors and automated smart-irrigation, so that urban farming can be made cost-effective, with minimal manpower involvement. Both are currently piloting their solutions with local farms.

In contrast, some start-ups turn online to reduce food waste. Another Makanpreneur start-up, E-Farmer Market, is building an online platform to connect hobby farmers with the local community. Farmers can trade their home grown foods with their neighbours, giving visibility to Singapore’s underground homegrown farmers, and reduce food wastage by redistributing food surpluses. Similarly, Lasmin has launched an online marketplace with both an Android and an iPhone app, bringing buyers and sellers of perishable food items together, thus reducing information asymmetry and food waste.

Makanpreneur ends on the 28 March next year with a presentation to an audience composed of invited guests from the food industry and impact investment space. The most promising teams will receive a funding of up to $10,000 from Croeni Foundation. Through UNFRAMED’s rigorous training & coaching sessions covering pitching, branding and digital marketing, impact assessment and more, the start-ups will see their businesses scale up to bring even more impact into Singapore’s food sustainability.