Grub Cycle: On a mission to reduce food wastage
By Chong Jinn Xiung February 8, 2018
- Plans to expand across Malaysia and raise the next round of funding in 2018
- To launch new e-commerce focused website and mobile app
IT IS no secret that Malaysians really love food but you may be surprised to learn that a lot of perfectly edible food ends up being dumped in some landfill without being touched at all. Startling figures show that as much as 15 tonnes of food is wasted in a day out of which three tonnes is actually edible. That is enough to feed 2.2 million people and provide them three meals a day.
Not wanting to idly stand by as the environment wastes away, social entrepreneur Redza Shahid (pic) decided to take matters into his own hands by setting up Grub Cycle in 2016 together with three other co-founders, who have since left the business. He described Grub Cycle as a social supermarket that is dedicated to reducing food wastage.
He said, in the beginning during the validation stage of the idea, while at the MaGIC Social Enterprise Accelerator programme in 2016, Grub Cycle took to selling surplus food items on Facebook and Instagram.
They have since improved their process to sell products on their website and a dedicated mobile app in May 2017.
Redza said Grub Cycle often gets a variety of different surplus products from supermarkets like condiments, sauces, olive oil, drinks, chocolates, cereal and even milk. According to him, between 30% - 50% of products on the shelves of supermarkets are thrown away while they are still perfectly edible.
Taking milk as an example, Redza said milk can actually be drunk seven days after the expiration date. “We have the mentality that we need to drink milk the same day we open it or we have to throw it away. With this information that we have and published on our blog, we hope to slowly change the mindset of consumers,” he said.
Grub Cycle is split between different product offerings such as Grub Groceries that sells and delivers surplus food products from supermarkets at an affordable cost with no delivery cost. There is also Grub Homemade that transforms surplus or unwanted fruits and vegetables into end products like Pineapple Jam or Cabbage Kimchi that have a longer lifespan.
Though the majority of the products are sold to the mass market at the present moment, Redza’s main objective is to help those in the lower income bracket get better access to food and save money at the same time.
To this end, he has experimented with new ways to expand Grub Cycle’s reach to the low-income community, particularly with Grub Mobile. This latest endeavour is through the use of a rented food truck to sell surplus food at below market price in low-income areas.
Over the past two years, Grub Cycle has been working hard to educate both businesses and consumers on the importance of saving edible surplus food. They have thus far managed to save over 3,000kg of edible food while helping customers save up to RM23,000 in value.
Though it was difficult approaching supermarkets to buy into the idea of selling their surplus goods to them, Grub Cycle gained media traction and was able to engage with distributors and now even wholesalers are approaching them to take in their products.
A year of expansion and fundraising
“We saw 2017 as the year where we found our product market fit. We finally found it in selling surplus groceries mostly through the web which is why we are focusing on improving our website to make it more e-commerce friendly as it is still more an informational page at the moment,” he said.
While their efforts have largely been focused around the Klang Valley, Redza plans to expand Grub Cycle’s coverage across the whole of Malaysia and even across the causeway into Singapore.
Speaking of his longer-term goals, Redza hopes to open a supermarket within the next three to five years, that specialises in surplus goods and caters to the low-income community.
Suffice to say, 2018 will be a year of expansion and fundraising for Grub Cycle. “We have interested investors in Singapore and even in the United States though we are holding off the expansion until we find the right supplier in Singapore first,” Redza said.
Grub Cycle had previously raised a pre-seed round that brought together RM1 million in grants from various parties including Cradle, MaGIC, My Harapan and the Alliance Bizsmart Challenge.
While he did not want to disclose how much Grub Cycle is looking to raise, he did say that they looking at a valuation of RM2 to RM4 million.
Redza described version 2.0 of the website, which is set to be ready in March 2018 just in time to raise the next round of funds, to be 80% focused on selling of surplus groceries. They will also be releasing the second version of their mobile app sometime in Q3 of 2018.