In the heart of Southeast Asia, a story of innovation, sustainability, and social responsibility is unfolding.
Meet Chin Jia Zhuang, the visionary CEO of De Lettuce B.E.A.R, a trailblazing company that is reshaping the landscape of lettuce farming and nutrition across Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
Chin’s journey started as a young professional, climbing the ranks from a Sales Executive to a Regional Manager at Tecumseh Euro Malaysia. With determination and grit, he managed to penetrate the Thailand market, turning zero sales into over USD 550k within just three years. Yet, it was his deeper passion for nutrition and business development that would lead him to his next chapter of life.
“I find the nutrition field fascinating because the right mix of nutrition can boost the health of animals and humans by leaps and bounds,” says Chin. “On the other hand, business development is a wonderful field as it enables all ideas, products, and solutions to reach the world while rewarding the entrepreneurs, scientists, and employees who make it happen.”
And so, De Lettuce B.E.A.R was born, not just as a business idea, but as a socially enriching vision. Recognising the demand for healthier, pesticide-free lettuce among Southeast Asian consumers, particularly the health-conscious Gen Z, Chin saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between nutritious produce and conscientious farming practices.
But it wasn’t just about lettuce. It was about revolutionising the way we think about agriculture, sustainability, and food security. Armed with a clear mission, De Lettuce B.E.A.R embarked on a journey to provide selenium bio-fortified lettuces that would address both dietary deficiencies and environmental concerns.
Selenium, a vital micronutrient, was the key to this mission. Chin recognised the widespread deficiency of selenium in the region, which can lead to a range of health problems. This deficiency, coupled with the demand for healthier and environmentally friendly produce, became the driving force behind De Lettuce B.E.A.R’s commitment to biofortification.
Through years of research and experimentation, De Lettuce B.E.A.R developed a unique indoor vertical farming and hydroponic system that not only increased lettuce yield and nutrition but also contributed to environmental sustainability. By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the company achieved 40% higher yields, 50% richer nutrition, and zero use of pesticides and herbicides.
“The combination of lettuce-specific knowledge and AI expertise allows us to biofortify our lettuce with selenium, making it 10x richer than average lettuce,” explains Chin. “Our lettuce now caters for 50% of an individual’s daily selenium intake, addressing both dietary needs and environmental concerns.”
The journey didn’t stop there. Chin’s commitment to education and sustainability led him to establish a partnership with Kasetsart University Thailand, a respected institution that shared their values. This collaboration aimed to drive innovation, enhance the quality of agricultural products, and promote sustainable food systems for the future.
Looking ahead, De Lettuce B.E.A.R’s vision is expansive. With the ASEAN population’s increasing demand for vegetables and changing dietary habits, the company sees enormous potential for growth. Their lettuce, once a simple leafy green, has transformed into a symbol of innovation, health, and sustainability.
As Chin reflects on his journey, he emphasises the importance of viewing life in chapters. “Growing De Lettuce Bear into the leading lettuce producer across Malaysia and Southeast Asia is my biggest chapter yet,” he smiles. “It’s a collective vision, a project that involves everyone who takes part.”
With De Lettuce B.E.A.R leading the way, the future of agriculture is looking greener, more nutritious, and undoubtedly promising.