Steady hand at Hernan’s helm


New ways of consuming tropical fruits: The diversification into downstream products also stems from the desire to introduce consumers to other ways of eating durians or other tropical fruit-based products at a global level.

KUALA LUMPUR: For durian exporter Hernan Corporation Sdn Bhd, the Covid-19 pandemic has been both an opportunity and a challenge.

According to its group CEO Anna Teo, global demand for the king of fruits continues to soar despite the ongoing crisis.

“We see increasing demand from China, Australia and the United States for Malaysian durians. This is a good opportunity for us to seize, but at the same time, it poses a challenge as the supply is currently unable to meet the demand,” she said, noting that Hernan is finding ways to resolve the mismatch in demand.

One of the companies that clinched the Most Promising title at the Export Excellence Awards (EEA) 2019, Hernan has grown by leaps and bounds since it was founded 25 years ago in 1996.

Today, the company exports to 28 countries, with Teo proudly sharing that Hernan has successfully penetrated the Oman and Kuwait markets after two years of continuous follow-ups.

Balancing act: Rising demand from different countries is good, but there are challenges in ensuring supply, says Teo.Balancing act: Rising demand from different countries is good, but there are challenges in ensuring supply, says Teo.

That said, Hernan does face its share of challenges in the Covid-19 era, most notably in terms of complying with stricter importation regulations from China’s customs.

In addressing the issue, she said, “We work with China Certification and Inspection Group Malaysia to sanitise all containers before loading the goods, in order to ensure all shipments are free of Covid-19,”

Moreover, while she noted that logistics remain an issue in terms of difficulties in securing sufficient vessels for export, Hernan is working with forwarding agents to secure advance bookings for the next three months to avoid costly shipment delays.

Despite the core of its business being in durian export, Hernan is nevertheless taking the initiative to continue its diversification strategy in creating more revenue channels, in order to generate more business outside of peak durian seasons.

Its plans for the rest of the year are to aggressively push its newly launched downstream products to both export as well as local markets.

Ongoing diversification journey: Despite the core of its business being in durian export, Hernan is nevertheless taking the initiative to continue its diversification strategy in creating more revenue channels, in order to generate more business outside of peak durian seasons.Ongoing diversification journey: Despite the core of its business being in durian export, Hernan is nevertheless taking the initiative to continue its diversification strategy in creating more revenue channels, in order to generate more business outside of peak durian seasons.

“We’ve diversified into non-durian downstream products, such as mango passion fruit mochi, strawberry cheese mochi, mango cheese mochi and coconut mochi, among others,” she said, referencing the continued innovative efforts by Hernan’s research and development team to come up with more downstream products.

Aside from serving as a part of the company’s strategy, Teo said the diversification also stems from the desire to introduce consumers to other ways of eating durians or other tropical fruit-based products at a global level, leveraging Malaysia’s inherent natural strengths to spur further expansion into different countries.

On what she has learnt in the past year as an entrepreneur, she pointed out challenges such as shipment delays and lesser manpower capacity and said, “One of the lessons I’ve learnt is to stay vigilant all the time, especially in the export market.

“Another learning is to stay even more positive during these challenging times, so as to maintain high morale among staff.”

In this, winning EEA 2019’s Most Promising title has been a confidence booster for both Teo and her company.

“This has definitely given a confidence booster to me as well as the company, [showing] that our effort is acknowledged and we would continue to strive better moving forward,” she shared.

For those looking to participate in this year’s EEA, Teo had this to say: “Just do it! There’s no better time to submit your application. It provides a platform to gauge the effort you and your team have put in.”

EEA 2021 is organised by Star Media Group in partnership with Standard Chartered, with Matrade as patron. It is audited by BDO.

Those keen to apply for EEA 2021 can visit exportawards.com.my, contact Victor at victorcheong@thestar.com.my or Jency at jencyjohn@thestar.com.my.

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