LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jun 2018 10am

Up Close With... Datuk Yusuf Taiyoob, The Date Whisperer

Safia, one of the bestselling dates under Yusuf Taiyoob's brand.Safia, one of the bestselling dates under Yusuf Taiyoob's brand.YOU know that Ramadan is just around the corner when the radio and televison keep on playing the iconic, somewhat sexy and strangely persuasive Yusuf Taiyoob's ad.

The 20-second commercial may have been on air for so many years now but hearing it again, year-in and year-out, is like listening to evergreen Hari Raya songs the likes of Dendang Perantau by the late P. Ramlee... without them, the fasting month (in Malaysia at least) would be incomplete.

The runaway success of the ad even caught the owner, Datuk Yusuf Taiyoob by surprise, especially after it made his products into instant households name.

"Everything, including advertising and commercials, have to come through me. I will oversee the process and will approve them only after I am satisfied," the 49-year-old businessman told Malaysian Digest recently.

So what was the whispering of the company's name (or his name) at the end of the commercial all about, one might ask?

Yusuf (right) prefers the hands-on approach, meeting his customers face to face.Yusuf (right) prefers the hands-on approach, meeting his customers face to face."Well, I find that many commercials are almost similar. There were nothing different, no catchy effect and phrase. I felt our's needed to have something different and at the time felt the whisper would do the job,"

"It so happens that the people... our customers, accept it," he said.

As it turned out the whisper really did the job. Sales of Yusuf Taiyoob's dates and other consumer products skyrocketed.

Children were heard reciting the commercial at playgrounds, in schools and even inside the comfort of their homes. Adults in the meantime, talk about it in their offices and coffee shops. Before you know it, everybody wanted a taste of Yusuf Taiyoob's dates.

No one, including Yusuf himself had imagined it would caught on so fast.

The customers' acceptance, he said were overwhelming but the success would not have been possible without the company's wide ranging distributors network, reasonable pricing and the high quality of products.

"All these factors work hand-in-hand. With the quality that we are offering, people appreciate it and they want to buy our products to sell to their customers," he said.

"Many of our customers are regulars who have been coming to us for dates and other consumer products for years but we could see that the sales increased gradually since the ad appeared on television and radio," he said.

Yusuf was not always the supplier of dates and dried food products. He started out, in 1979, selling perfumes at his grandfather's shop near the Bayan Lepas airport in Penang.

Yusuf and his branch manager checking out the coldrooom at the Kota Damansara outlet.Yusuf and his branch manager checking out the coldrooom at the Kota Damansara outlet.As that did not turned out well, Yusuf said he decided to turn to selling consumer goods such as spices, beans, cashew nuts, almonds and raisins.

"Slowly, the business grew and years later, there is a need to increase Yusuf Taiyoob Sdn Bhd's (Yuta) range of products. It was then that dates came into the picture,"

"We started supplying dates on a small scale and as people started to recognise and trust our products, we then decided to come out with our own brand,"

"Previously, the Yuta logo were for our invoices and letter heads but since then has become a trademark for my products," he said.

Yusuf said he even named three of his popular products after his three children;  Wasem, Safiya (or Safia) and Safina, as a show of his love for them.

Meanwhile, Yusuf said he was not worried with the mushrooming competition in the industry.

"We have regular customers, they know who we are and the type of quality products we offer.

"At the same time, we always come up with new things and new products to satify their needs," he said.

Yusuf said many people had initially thought the company only opened for business during Ramadan month and sells only dates.

"Truthfully, we do business all year round and with the ever increasing demand, have decided to open up our latest branch, the third's, in Kota Damansara last May to cater to the Klang Valley and southern markets," he said.

Success did not go into Yusuf's head, the soft spoken and ever-humble entrepreneur said he believes in giving back to society.

"I am thankful to Allah for everything and grateful by the support from ny family. And Ramadan to me means charity.

"We need to help those who need our help and get the blessing from Allah. Without His help we are nothing." Yusuf said.

'Dates Are Like Durians'

When it comes to dates, Yusuf said personal reference is key and there is no such thing as the best tasting fruit.

Some of the varieties of dates on sale at the Kota Damansara branch.Some of the varieties of dates on sale at the Kota Damansara branch."Just like durians over here, dates are about personal choice. Some people like their dates hard, while other like it fresh and sweet. Some even use it for medicinal purposes," he said.

The shapes and sizes of dates, he said are different mostly because of the geographical factor and Yuta supplies more than 35 types of dates not just from the Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Oman but also from South Africa, Northern African countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.

The types of dates also varied based on their size and texture ranging from Ajwa, Amber, Safawi, Soggaei, Rabia, Jewel, Anbara and many more.

"I personally pick and choose higher quality dates than that of the competitors from these countries because that's what my customers demand," he said.

Apart from dates, Yuta also imported various dried foods such as spices, raisins and bakery ingredients from the United States and otherour  countries.

"My hope is to see our brand becoming part of the Malaysian society and hopefully other neighbouring countries as well in the near future," he said.


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What Customes Say:

Alfian Muhamad, 39, frozen food and organic chicken seller from Section U10, Shah Alam, Selangor.

.."Yusuf Taiyoob's brand has always been part of the range of products I sell for the past four years. The reason is largely due to the pricing, packaging and quality. It is hard to find this kind of quality at reasonable price offered here,"

"Some of the dates, which are packed in air tight packages, flew off my shelves very quickly. The favourites were the Safawi and Ajwa dates,"





Mohd Nor Arif Mohd Azmi, 27, arabic food products seller from Bentong, Pahang.


"The branding is just excellent and iconic, people recognised the brand and always ask for it in my shop,"

"Previously I used get the dates and other food products from a different supplier and now because it is such a bestseller, I decided to come here (the new Kota Damansara branch) on my own and get it straight from them."

- mD