In Sabah, on the other hand, it’s much less so.
Seeing an opportunity to get a head start in the e-grocer scene there, a team of 4 Sabahans decided to disrupt the market using the farm-to-table concept.
With the experience of running private farms and resorts for almost a decade, this team formed Nutribah in late April 2020.
They wanted to consolidate and innovate their existing private resources into a single platform that would be more accessible to the Sabahan public.
Usually, produce sold by most e-grocers switch hands a lot.
It goes from the farm to the middlemen, and on to retailers before reaching consumers.
With so many people involved, food safety could be jeopardised, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, Nutribah ensures that its produce travels straight to consumers with no external parties involved.
This way, they are able to maintain their accessibility, affordability, as well as quality control.
It’s also a strategy that makes them stand out from other Sabahan e-grocers like Swasana Hijau, Green-Os, and Dream Farm.
The name Nutribah derives from the combination of the word “Nutritious & Sabah”, with “bah” being local dialect/slang.
Cultivating Great Relationships With Consumers
Preston Sean Soh, Executive Director of Nutribah, believes that the key to succeeding in the current 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 its produce is antibiotic-free, chemical-free, and pesticide-free.
As for their farming sustainability, Nutribah adopts the IoT-based smart farming system which utilises more technology than manpower.
This way, they can control and monitor the environment of their farms with sensors indicating the humidity level, amount of light, temperature, soil pH level, and more, to ensure healthy crop growth.
Once an order comes in, they’ll immediately harvest the specific produce from the farm, clean, quality check, pack it within 15 minutes and deliver it.
By managing its own in-house fleet system, Nutribah also has full control over the deliveries to ensure efficiency.
“This allows us to move fast without having to sacrifice long lag time in between, which may compromise the freshness of our organic produce and allow customers to receive the produce in the most timely manner,” said Preston.
Staying Adaptable For Every Bump In the Road
Some hiccups they face with this system can be due to weather changes during the day.
As Sabah is prone to heavy downpour, even leading to flash floods in some areas, it can disrupt the delivery process sometimes.
Hence, it is of utmost importance for their drivers or riders (known as Nutriman) to obtain the precise location of rural areas without signages or registration of the map for a smooth delivery.
While Nutribah tries their best to remain adaptable with the ever-changing market, a challenge that they currently face is with the adaptability of Sabahans moving online.
To catalyse that, the team has been setting up offline booths and participating in local pop-up markets to create awareness on e-grocers amongst their target audience.
To date, they reached 1,500 orders in September and 2,000 orders by early October. They have also expanded internally and now have a 15-strong team.
What’s Next In Store?
Essentially, the long game for Nutribah is to spearhead sustainable development in Sabah through digitalisation.
How they plan to achieve that? By reaching out and engaging with more rural farmers in Sabah and sharing the IoT smart farming technologies with them.
That being said, they are also ready to provide their marketing platform for these farmers to market their produce efficiently.
They also want to encourage Sabahans to go cashless and put Sabah’s value-added downstream organic production on the global map.
Featured Image Credit: Preston Sean Soh, Executive Director of Nutribah