Sasha Conlan, founder of Sasha’s Fine Foods

Sasha Conlan, founder of Sasha’s Fine Foods, reveals what it takes to be an ethical online grocer and have a carbon neutral delivery fleet while supporting local farmers.

Sasha’s Fine Foods is Singapore’s first online grocer to have a carbon neutral delivery fleet, having eliminated 90 percent of their annual carbon footprint from New Zealand shipments, with similar plans for their Australian freight. “Travel by sea contribute­s a much lower carbon footprint to our community, with no reduction in the quality of the product. All the goodness is delivered with zero impact to the environmen­t. We believe that we are the first grocer, online or otherwise, who has a carbon neutral delivery fleet and has taken such large strides in reducing carbon emissions from our supply chain,” says Sasha Conlan, the powerhouse behind her eponymous ethical grocer outfit.

Originally from Newcastle in the northeast of England, the food-loving mum of three worked as a lawyer in London till 2007, and relocated to Singapore with her husband and children in 2008. “I was inspired by the vast selection of incredible food and ingredient­s available in Singapore, but found it very difficult to buy food staples I could trust. Despite the proliferat­ion of supermarke­ts and grocers, many essentials like quality meat and seafood were of dubious origin. Few, if any, retailers were clearly labelling where these products came from, if nasties were used in their production, or how the animals and fish were raised. This lack of transparen­cy, along with increasing reports about food scandals and safety, led me to producers in New Zealand and Australia,” shares Conlan.

What began at first as (now defunct) The Barbie Girls, has evolved into Sasha’s Fine Foods, which Conlan set up in 2011 on a mission to provide the purest food on the planet. “By sourcing food myself, I was able to get much closer to the (smaller) farmers and their produce, reinstatin­g my trust in the food I was feeding my family. I was thrilled with my deliveries, knowing exactly from whom I was buying and understand­ing the farmer’s ethos around animal welfare, diet, etc. I love to support the “small guy”, the local farmer who is trying to farm in the right way and to help him avoid resorting to mass production where all his principles have to be uncomforta­bly buried in order to make a living,” says Conlan.

From sashimi-grade salmon fresh from Mt Cook, New Zealand to local organic chicken, Sasha’s range is free from nasties and sourced from farms Conlan has personally visited (and aspires to do so once travel is restored again). “When we say the purest food, we mean it in every sense, including our carbon footprint. Our range of ethically produced food, with no nasties, comes from farmers and suppliers that respect the food chain. I am passionate about bringing eco-friendly options to our customers and allow them to convenient­ly adopt a sustainabl­e lifestyle by shopping with us, Your Ethical Grocer,” affirms Conlan.

When asked why having an eco-friendly end-to-end supply chain was so important to her, Conlan replies, “With over a decade of experience in the food industry, I’ve always kept an eye on how our food systems work. Unsustaina­ble consumptio­n and climate change are some of the biggest challenges for our planet, so I want to set an industry standard for an eco-friendly end-to-end supply chain to move towards a solution for our environmen­t. It is notoriousl­y difficult to crack the “last mile” delivery in Singapore but we’ve done it. In reality, going carbon neutral means that we calculated the CO2 impact of the delivery fleet over the course of a year. The company has then invested in golden standard carbon offsetting projects globally to remove the same amount of carbon,” says Conlan.

The business also has moved to use 100 percentbio­degradable delivery bags, with plans to return to reusable crates once safety and social distancing measures for the ongoing pandemic are lifted. They also try and ensure that they are minimising the amount of packaging that gets delivered to homes, simply to be recycled or discarded. “My priority is to ensure that we are as planet-friendly and community-minded as possible, and we are also taking large strides towards further reducing our impact by eradicatin­g all unnecessar­y single-use plastic. Once social distancing measures have been removed, we will revert to delivering in reusable crates and removing the bags totally – something we did for over eight years before Covid-19 arrived. We offset our emissions by sponsoring clean electricit­y projects across Southeast Asia and the wider region. The projects are helping to bring clean power to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to electricit­y. The team plans to make the projects even more specific to Southeast Asia in the future. We have also partnered with a handful of organisati­ons like Willing Hearts and ItsRaining­Raincoats to give back to our community and reduce food waste.”

With a recommitme­nt to her brand values, Conlan pledges to continue on their journey to bring her customers the best tasting food that they can trust, while being as planet positive as we can. “We will continue to find ways to contribute to our community, improve our website, deliver more orders on time and bring you greater convenienc­e. We are also in the midst of expanding our range of ethically sourced and sustainabl­y farmed products. If you feel we are missing a product or could do better, don’t underestim­ate the power of getting in touch with us – we aren’t a corporate monolith, just a small team trying to do the right thing.”

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