Just Dabao: The Singaporean Start-up Revolutionising Food Waste Reduction

Singapore generated an alarming 665,000 tonnes of food waste, including surplus food, in the year 2020, as reported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) – a leading public organisation responsible for ensuring a clean and sustainable environment for Singapore.

This staggering amount is a serious concern for the country as it not only contributes to environmental issues such as landfills and greenhouse gas emissions but also highlights the need for effective solutions to address the problem of food waste.

Hence, it demands better and long-term solutions to curb the such menace.

A startup stepped in

Just Dabao, a start-up based in Singapore, is playing a pivotal role in reducing food waste by facilitating the distribution of surplus food and beverages from food businesses to individuals seeking delicious snacks, treats, and meals.

The NEA’s data underscores the importance of initiatives like Just Dabao, which are working to reduce food waste and promote sustainable practices in the food industry.

Founded in 2020, with Jeniffer Widjaja and Srikanth Katikala as co-founders, the company connects with vendors who have excess food, for instance, sourdough loaves, cake slices, salads, and jars of nut butter with hungry consumers.

As a result, this social enterprise helps food businesses minimise waste while satisfying the cravings of those searching for scrumptious food options.

The innovative concept behind Just Dabao perfectly combines two of Singapore’s favourite things: food and bargaining. The online platform enables food and beverage (F&B) merchants to sell their surplus food at 30 to 40 per cent of the original prices, with an additional markup of S$1 to S$2. This translates to an average of 50 per cent savings for consumers, making it an incredibly appealing option for those looking to enjoy delicious food at affordable prices.

However, the focus of Just Dabao is not to generate profits but rather to save costs for the merchants.

Since the ingredients typically make up 20 to 30 per cent of the dish’s price, Just Dabao aims to help merchants recover some of that sunken cost, said Widjaja in an interview with can.

The discounts offered on surplus food also serve as an incentive for consumers to purchase the food, thus minimising waste and promoting sustainability in the F&B industry, she added.

The need for more such startups

Startups like Just Dabao are crucial in addressing the issue of food waste, which is a significant global problem. In Singapore alone, 665,000 tonnes of food waste were generated in 2020, with only 17% being recycled. By providing a platform for F&B merchants to sell surplus food at a reduced price, Just Dabao helps prevent perfectly good food from being thrown away, thus reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, the platform incentivises consumers to purchase surplus food by offering discounts, making it an appealing option for budget-conscious individuals. Overall, startups like Just Dabao play an important role in promoting sustainability and reducing the impact of the F&B industry on the environment.

Traditional food waste reduction methods, such as composting and recycling, are important but not always feasible or effective. Startups like Just Dabao provide a practical solution by creating a market for surplus food that would otherwise go to waste.

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