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LAST_UPDATEThu, 21 Jun 2018 2pm

Amazin' Graze To Expand Reach

KUALA LUMPUR -- Homegrown food startup Amazin' Graze aims to expand its reach to Asian markets such as Indonesia and the Philippines as well as the United Kingdom and the United States by year-end to cater to the demand for affordable snacks.

The company currently has a presence in the domestic market as well as in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, offering artisanal handcrafted healthy snacks that are 100 per cent natural such as granola, nut mix and nut butter.

"By year-end, we will have a lot of international certifications including the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). Once we get the certifications, we will be able to enter Indonesia and the Philippines by Christmas this year," she told Bernama.

Zheng explained that the company aims to be an international food business producing healthy snacks with a target market of working adults between 25 and late 30s as well as young mothers.

"It is wonderful that we started in Malaysia because Malaysia has such a high taste profile. People want really tasty products. If we can capture the market here, we can easily capture international markets," she noted

Zheng added the company depends on a bottom-up marketing strategy by collaborating with local influencers to promote their products.

"As a start-up, we don’t have a lot of marketing budget, we don't spend a lot of money on tv or billboards, but we definitely work with the local influencers. We identify people who are already having intentions to live healthy, do a lot of fitness or they make healthy food.

"We work with them to introduce our products via their Instagram and their Facebook pages. It is very genuine marketing because it is from their word of mouth that their friends and their colleagues get to discover," she added.

Amazin' Graze was established in 2015 by Zheng, Chief Operating Officer Sabrina How and Chief Marketing Officer Ching Yi Lee with the mission to change the way Malaysian consumers snack due to the lack of healthy foods in the local market. "We found that there were very few options or it was mostly imported food from Australia, the US, the UK, but that was not suitable for Malaysian palette because in Malaysia, we like to eat very rich, very flavourful food and nothing in the market we saw was tailored to that," said Zheng.

All 600 packets of granola and nut were sold out on the first two days Amazin' Graze hit the market in Kuala Lumpur three years ago.

"Initial investments were not big because we wanted to start small. We rented a small facility in Sentul of about 700 sq ft," said Zheng.

The company recently moved to a bigger production facility in Kepong of nearly 9,000 sq ft with a capacity of two tonnes per day, helped by the company's becoming the second runner-up in Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd and Eco World Development Group Bhd's BizSmart Challenge in 2016.

"I would say it was a starting point where our dream of having a bigger facility came about," said How.

Main ingredients such as oats are sourced from Australia while nuts and mulberries are imported from the US and the Middle East respectively. The company also uses local products such as palm sugar and pandan.

To manage costs, How said the company has built a good relationship with its suppliers.

"We took a hit once. When we first started, the ringgit was a lot stronger (against the US dollar). As it hit above the 4.30-level, it hurt us a little bit because the costs increased as well. From then on we talked to our suppliers to let us know earlier when the price is expected to increase so we can book at the price that we want," she added.

With the initial three employees (the founders), the company currently has 40 employees with total sales at around RM500,000 per month and more during festive seasons.

"By the end of the year, we are looking at doubling our revenues again, we usually grow more rapidly during festive seasons," explained Zheng.

Meanwhile, How pointed out that the company thrives on innovation to excite its target market while aiming to introduce new products such as bars in the fourth quarter of this year and instant chia pudding next year.

-- BERNAMA