THE healthy food business is definitely booming in Malaysia. It seems as if every month, a brand new healthy food eatery will open up in a mall or in a neighbourhood in the Klang Valley.
This might have something to do with Malaysia being labelled the country with the most health problems linked to obesity in South-East Asia.
As more people start looking for alternatives to their unhealthy diets, entrepreneurs and business owners are flooding the market with foreign brands that cater to them.
Recently, MetroBiz highlighted Snow Factory (M) Sdn Bhd the latest healthy dessert chain to hit our shores after taking Taiwan by storm.
Snow Factory Malaysia director Chong Lipwei, who discovered the brand on a trip to Taiwan informed MetroBiz that many Malaysians are now looking for alternatives when it comes to their meals and that they want to enjoy good food without feeling guilty.
According to Malaysian Investment Development Authority consumer awareness of nutritional value and food fortification for healthcare has created demand for healthy, minimally processed fresh food, organic food and natural food flavours from plants and seafood.
Due to the demand, even big corporations such as the Mofaz Group are looking at the potential offered by healthy foods.
The big boys
Established in 1977, Mofaz started off as a trading house that dealt with the import and export of grains and other commodities. Today, with over 120 companies under its banner, Mofaz is definitely one of the larger conglomerates in Malaysia.
Among the earliest companies to enter the general aviation and marine leisure industries in Malaysia, Mofaz through sound business management and prudent expansion planning has evolved into a dynamic consortium that includes fast-moving-consumer-goods, commercial and consumer vehicles, properties and hotels, insurance, information technology and advertising among its core businesses.
Now, the conglomerate is trying its hand in the healthy food business with the launch of Hakka Salt Baked Chicken under its Mofaz Heritage Food range.
“We understand the need for healthy meals in today’s society and there’s a void in the market for healthy Asian meals,” said Kumpulan Mofaz Sdn Bhd business development and marketing director Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad. We have most of the recipes here in Malaysia and we believe that they will be well appreciated,” he added.
Juradamai Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Mofaz Group of Companies, was given the task of coming up with an improved recipe for salt baked chicken suitable for mass production.
Jurudamai is headed by Kenneth Chen.
Salt baked chicken is a famous Hakka dish that is said to have been created some 300 years ago by the salt mine workers of Guangdong, China.
The miners wrapped chicken in paper and buried it in the ground to preserve it. As the miners migrated to Malaysia in the late 19th century, they brought along the recipe.
The miners first arrived in the Kinta Valley in Perak and carried on the tradition. Not long after, many started seeing the benefits of salt baked chicken and were willing to pay top dollar for the dish.
“Over the years, the recipe has been improved and today we have a truly Malaysian salt baked Chicken,” said Chen.
Jurudamai’s central kitchen located in Pandan Indah, Kuala Lumpur, will be the main cooking facility for the new business venture.
The state-of-the-art facility uses induction cookers for improved safety and energy efficiency. The automated kitchen will be able to boost production rapidly while consuming less energy than conventional kitchens.
The kitchen uses modern magnetic induction stoves to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption.
“We are currently producing approximately 400 chickens a day including the ones used for our bento sets. We aim to produce between 1,200 and 1,500 chickens by the end of the year,” said Chen.
To preserve the authenticity of the dish, the Hakka salt baked chickens are made using halal certified organically bred chickens.
Jurudamai also aims to give opportunities to young Malaysian chefs who can recreate a heritage recipe to suit today’s taste buds.
“There are many heritage recipes in Malaysia. We have Indian, Chinese and Malay recipes that can be customised to be healthy and still remain tasty,” said Chen.
“These days with Malaysians from different ethnic backgrounds learning to appreciate each other’s culture and food. We at Mofaz feel that we can take this opportunity to promote ethnic foods \ while keeping it halal and healthy,” said Zulkifli.
With its halal certification, Mofaz Group is looking beyond Malaysian shores when it comes to marketing their chickens.
“There’s a huge Muslim community in China and other parts of the world. We can tap into these markets through our partners the Circle K chain of convenience stores,” said Mofaz Direct CEO Razman Rahim.
The halal food industry is definitely booming with countries such as the UK, the US, Russia and France looking to import halal products.
The Mofaz Heritage Food range will be distributed by Mofaz’s marketing arm, Mofaz Direct SA Sdn Bhd and will also be made available at all Circle K convenience stores.
According to published reports, convenience chain store giant, Circle K plans to open more than 500 stores in Malaysia over the next five years through the Mofaz Group.
“We are also looking at supplying the airline, hotel and shipping industries as well. These are big markets with huge potential,” he added.