SINGAPORE - Food-based entrepreneurs and start-ups are sprouting up all over Singapore as the demand for sustainable products and services goes into overdrive.
While this demand is underpinning the eco-food trend, the extended time people spent grounded in Singapore during the pandemic also prompted some to tackle environmental issues, said Ms Rosalind Bazany, head of environmental, social, governance (ESG) and impact at Antler, a Singapore-based venture capital firm.
The result is a spate of pioneering firms in fields as diverse as urban farming, edible straws and plant-based eggs led by go-getters not afraid to venture where few others have trod.
Take former flight attendant entrepreneur Roc Koh, who started agriculture start-up Corridor Farmers in 2020 to build micro gardens and farms at schools and companies to help support food security and reduce the nation's carbon footprint.
"When you farm your own food, you cancel out a lot of carbon emissions that's produced, reducing miles. If we could have small farms at every corner of Singapore, we can reduce a lot of food miles," said Mr Koh, 36.
Corridor Farmers promotes sustainable farming methods such as fermenting expired yoghurt and milk to use as fertilizer, said Mr Koh.
"Many of our build materials that we integrate into our farm design are also made from recycled material, such as our custom modular planter box and raised bed, that are made from recycled plastics and reprocessed deck wood," he added.
The company also runs education programmes on indoor and rooftop farms for schools given food security is now part of the classroom curriculum. It also conducts workshops on topics such as composting, awareness on sustainability and hydroponics.
Fresh university graduate Vanessa Chia has taken a different track in her eco-business journey.
Ms Chia, 24, was inspired by an entrepreneurship module she took at university and seized the opportunity to set up a start-up selling sustainable products when she found that alternatives to paper straws were not commonly sold here.
She and mechanical engineer Claudia Teck, 24, started ZeroW, selling edible rice straws on e-commerce platform Shopee as an alternative to paper straws, which are more popular as substitutes for plastic ones.
Rice straws can last for two hours unlike paper straws, which can start to collapse in under an hour.
"Rice straws are bur...