updated 27 Jul 2010, 01:05
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Tue, Jul 27, 2010
The Business Times
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Yes Natural Group
by Audrey Phoon

Yes Natural Group
599 Geylang Road (and seven other locations)
Tel: 6846 1580 /

THE folks behind the Yes Natural Group have a lofty goal - they want to save the world. Literally. Says the company's general manager Daren Ong: 'We want to create a cleaner and better environment to live in. We don't own this planet; we've only borrowed it from future generations, so we should return it in a condition that is, if not better, then at least as good as that which we received it in.'

To that end, he and two other partners - all formerly from non-related industries but who have the 'same goal and passion that pushed us to do this' - went about setting up a natural-food firm that would 'break the cycle of the traditional format of business'. 'In this society, when people talk about competition, it means that you have step someone down in order to win,' he says. 'But we don't believe in that; we believe it can be a win-win situation between the producers, the retailers and the consumers. Everyone can benefit and grow together.'

What Yes Natural does, then, is to work with suppliers of organic or natural products who share the company's vision. It sells these items at very reasonable prices or uses them in the food it serves, thus helping consumers to improve their eating habits.

The company's first store opened in Geylang slightly over three years ago and since then, that number has swelled to eight outlets with different concepts. There's a restaurant that serves creatively-done Chinese vegetarian food, a bakery, a wholesale branch, a couple of grocery stores and, most recently, a 'cosy corner' at Market Street, which opened two months ago.

The latter serves tasty quick-fix vegetarian fare such as noodles with fresh vegetables in an umami almond sauce, sushi rolls and pocket salads, plus there's also a deli component where you can buy organic groceries.

Yes Natural has its own line of products too, which it launched two years back. 'We wanted to develop some of our own products and make them more accessible to our customers - sometimes they don't understand the labelling on our Taiwan-imported items because it's in Chinese,' shares Mr Ong, reinforcing Yes Natural's mission statement that the business should benefit all.

Retail aside, the group also conducts tours to organic farms as well as lessons on calligraphy, nutrition and cooking at two of its branches. In regard to the cooking classes, Mr Ong says: 'We think it's important that people learn how to choose the food they consume, and we also want to show them that it's possible to cook nice vegetarian food.' The classes, he adds, are held for about two months at a time, twice a year, and 'response has been quite steady since we started', with the most recent one attracting more than 30 participants.

It's all very hearty growth and, encouraged by that, Yes Natural aims to expand even more in time to come, to spread the green message. Says Mr Ong: 'If we don't change the way we live, the earth's soil will all be spoiled by artificial fertilisers, and then there'll be war.'

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This article was first published in The Business Times.

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