Claire’s Passion Is to Provide Sustainable, Fresh, Organic, Fruit and Vegetables
What’s your story?
I am married and have three children: a seven-year-old and 4-year-old twins. In 2015, two weeks before giving birth to our twins, I started ShiokFarm. Not the best timing, but I needed to find affordable and fresh organic fruit and veggies for my children.
At the time, ShiokFarm’s first members talked to their friends about our bags, who talked to their friends, who talked… Fast forward four years, and we distribute affordable, traceable, and certified organic fruit and vegetables to about 300 families in Singapore. We have a few different bags that match different household needs, such as our Fruit and Vegetable bags, Paleo Diet bag, and Fruit bag. The next bag we are launching is an Indian Bag.
Our model is unique to Singapore. We have direct partnerships with farms. We agree to buy all their harvest and share it with our community. This allows farmers much-needed visibility and helps to reduce food waste. An estimated 40% of food waste is saved thanks to this model. It also allows people to eat what is in season. Lastly, as most of our produce comes from Thailand by truck, we pollute much less than the food supplies that are brought in by plane. Most organic fruit and vegetables cannot come by boat as the trip would be too long.
What excites you most about your industry?
By eating organic food, not only do you help your body to be healthy, you support farmers, clean soil, and clean water sources. This is only possible when food is grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
This industry is one way to create a more sustainable world, especially when you make sure your food comes from nearby sources. It gives each one of us the opportunity to have an impact, and to save money.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I arrived in Beijing, China, in 1998. I met my husband in Shanghai in 2006. Our children are half Japanese, half French. They were all born in Singapore and I love the fact that we can bring them up in an environment that embraces multiculturalism.
Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, definitely! The government makes a huge effort to be efficient. This is not the case in other countries, where I have experienced slow processing and endless paperwork.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My mom has told me many times that if I really want something, I can have it. It is all about hard work, drive, and purpose.
Who inspires you?
People who walk the talk. Guy Singh-Watson, who created Riverford in the UK, is one of these people. 30 years ago, he decided to do things differently for the betterment of people and the planet. Today, Riverford is one of the largest organic fresh fruit and vegetable businesses in the UK, with an exceptionally high level of ethics.
What have you just learned recently that blew you away?
A couple of months ago, we realized we could not ship our products from Bangkok by air anymore. We found a truck that could do it. I looked at the figures in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
To ship 1 ton from Bangkok to Singapore by plane, we emit 1,400 kilos of carbon dioxide.
To ship the same ton by truck, we emit 100 kilos of carbon dioxide.
I then wondered how long it took a tree to absorb 1 ton of carbon dioxide. It takes 40 years for a tree to absorb 1 ton of carbon dioxide. 40 years… So shipping 1 ton from Bangkok by plane requires 1.4 trees for 40 years.
And, if you ship 1 ton from Australia, by air, it generates 6,400 kilos of carbon dioxide. 6.4 trees for 40 years. Our way of consuming has a huge impact on nature. A massive impact. We all need to start looking at where our food comes from or start planting a seriously large forest.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would trust my instincts more.
How do you unwind?
I go for long walks.
Favorite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love visiting the farms we partner within Thailand and Malaysia. Spending time with the farmers is very relaxing. Everything slows down. You can’t be in a hurry with crops. You allow nature to do its job.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich,” by Tim Ferriss.
Shameless plug for your business:
ShiokFarm’s social mission is to bring affordable and traceable organic fruit and vegetables to families in Singapore. We partner with farms that are near Singapore in order to limit our carbon footprint. You can view our bags here: https://www.shiokfarm.com/collections/all
We recently launched [email protected], a weekly delivery of organic fruit to businesses. During the Circuit Breaker in 2020, we delivered bags to quite a number of essential businesses – their management wanted to show their staff how grateful they were to them, and how much they care about them. You can reach us at [email protected] for more information.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 1000 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built, and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.