Singapore: "Pandemic threw our plans out of the window, so we changed course to survive"

In April last year, shortly after Covid-19 hit, Archisen had just started to sell vegetables under their flagship brand Just Produce. Initially, the plan was to supply the vegetables only to hotels, restaurants, and cafes, but because the pandemic happened right after they launched their brand, sales were affected, write Vincent Wei and Sven Yeo, co-founders of Archisen.

"When news of the coronavirus broke, our hearts sank because of the speed and impact of this black-swan event disrupting our carefully crafted plans. We knew that many of our business assumptions and plans were no longer valid, and months of work went out of the window immediately.

"Similar to the various stages of grief, we came to an acceptance of the situation as pragmatism and resilience kicked in. We knew that we had to adapt to the situation quickly, or we would not survive.  The team gathered and took a long, hard look at the situation.

"We realized more people were eating at home during the pandemic and swiftly adjusted our business strategy to focus on building retail distribution channels and branding. We devised new types of salads that would appeal to consumers. As it was a new market for us, we had to experiment with different salad mixes and learn and make adjustments along the way. 

"We started distributing our salads and vegetables directly to consumers through various online platforms and have seen consistent growth in online purchases. One of our newest innovations, launched in the pandemic, is Just Harvest. 

"As a show of support, we also waived their leasing fees for several months. Some of the lessons learned from this ordeal as business owners are to keep close tabs on the situation to anticipate changes and to plan for various scenarios.  

"In the long term, we hope to seek out partners to build more farms to boost Singapore’s food resilience. We are also looking to work with other local farms to build up the domestic market and replace overseas produce."

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