Categories: BusinessNews

Local F&B names making their marks

The F&B market is expected to grow annually by 8.2% CAGR 


MALAYSIA’S homegrown food and beverage (F&B) industry has witnessed amazing growth over the past three decades, birthing household brands such as Brahim’s, Sri Nona and Adabi. 

Meanwhile, rising local entrepreneurs like Mamasab founder Siti Noor Sabrina Soobri and influencer Khairul Amin Kamarulzaman are also taking the industry by storm, propelled by the booming social media. 

The F&B market is expected to grow annually by 8.2% (compound annual growth rate [CAGR] 2022 to 2027), according to market and consumer data provider Statista. 

Social Media F&B Entrepreneurs

Siti Noor Sabrina, or more commonly known as Sabrina, told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that her bakery business started small, from the comfort of her home kitchen, in 2017. 

It all began from her love of making pastries and after attending a business programme, she learned to grow her brand. 

In 2020, Mamasab Bakery had 200 full- and part-time employees, all of whom have received training. 

Today, there are more than 100,000 registered Mamasab agents and almost 30 branches nationwide, offering up to 50 products in four categories — cakes, cookies, dry and frozen foods, and cosmetics. 

In 2021, despite the pandemic, Mamasab achieved RM162 million in sales. 

Sabrina noted that the fast success did not come easy, and that managing the production staff was very challenging. 

“The production team must be highly skilled and able to work quickly. I take full responsibility in guiding my employees. 

“I also want my agents to progress so that maybe one day they will come up with their own products under the brand,” said the mother of four. 

Sabrina also shared that she aims to achieve RM1 billion in sales by 2025. 

Some of the awards that she has received to date include Nona Best Growing F&B Business Award 2018, Superbrands Award 2019, Niaga Times Award 2020 and Top Young CEO 2019 Award. 

Meanwhile, Khairul Amin shot to Internet stardom with his simple “30 Days, 30 Recipes” videos that he posts during Ramadhan every year. 

From fun easy-to-follow recipe videos, Khairul Amin launched his signature “Sambal Nyet Berapi” in early January 2021 after which, he sold 10,000 bottles within 50 minutes on a local e-commerce site. 

In a video last year, he recalled how it took 10 days to pack 10,000 bottles and due to limited space, he had to rent another lot to pack his product for the launch. 

He added that between January 2021 and January 2022, he sold 540,000 bottles of “Sambal Nyet Berapi”, equivalent to gross sales of RM7.5 million. 

From just eight people, his team grew to 50 people over the months and they have been producing 5,000 bottles daily from his first factory in Kota Baru, Kelantan. 

At the end-2021, the factory produced a million bottles of the sambal with a gross sale of RM14 million. 

From an oil and gas engineer to the being a sambal expert that he is today, the 31-year-old’s journey had been colourful. 

He shared how in the beginning, he made many mistakes. 

“I bought the wrong equipment, the wrong material, made the wrong layout and so on,” he said in the video, admitting that it is part of the learning curve in becoming a successful entrepreneur. 

Khairul Amin reinvested almost 80% of his profits to expand his business and today, he owns a 14,000-sq metre factory in Kota Baru with imported machines and a local workforce. 

In the beginning, he only had some 800 Instagram followers which has grown to 3.5 million. 

Industry Legends 

Since its inception in 1986, Dewina Food Industries Sdn Bhd through its brand name Brahim’s, has been one of the leading food producers of instant retort pouched foods in Southeast Asia. 

A humble beginning with just 80 workers, it is now a group of companies with a combined staff of almost 3,000.

Its founder Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad said the company has had a lot of bittersweet memories and despite the challenges, they were able to serve the community and customers through its products and services. 

Graduated with a Master’s degree in Food Technology in 1974 and a Diploma in Agriculture in 1969, Ibrahim is also Dewina Holdings Sdn Bhd executive chairman. 

Ibrahim says despite the challenges, Brahim’s was able to serve the community and customers through its products and services (Pic courtesy of Brahim’s)

The 75-year-old was a former University Putra Malaysia (UPM) lecturer and a founding member of its Faculty of Food Science and Biotechnology, before he became the head of corporate research and development for a public company. 

“Moving forward, we are going to build up our non-aviation business, which is supplying ready-to-eat frozen products to hypermarkets and supermarkets such as AEON Big and Maxvalue, as well as restaurants. 

“Ultimately, we hope to achieve a 70:30 or 60:40 revenue contribution between the aviation and non-aviation businesses,” a Brahim’s spokesperson said to TMR. 

Known for its ready-to-eat meals and ready-to-cook sauces, Brahim’s products are prepared the traditional way. The team follows the same cooking process that has been used for centuries in this region. 

“The only difference is that we prepare our food in large quantities to be packed for our consumers. 

“We also work with home-chefs as our partners to help them increase their family happiness through food,” the spokesperson said. 

Another household name, Adabi, began its journey in 1984 with various curry products in a small factory located at the Batu Caves Light Industrial Area. 

Two years later, it transferred to a larger factory at Taman Kepong Light Industrial Area. 

Expanding the business further, Adabi then added two more plants at Taman Ehsan Light Industrial Area at 1990 and 1992. 

Sometime in 1996, due to increasing consumer demand, the curry producer made the move to its current location, a 4ha land at Rawang Integrated Industrial Park, which is also home to the company’s production sites, warehouses, corporate office and administrative facilities. 

Today, famously known with its tagline, “Bersih dan Asli” (Clean and Genuine), Adabi has over 300,000 online followers, 285 products and is expected to have some new additions in line. 

Listing ketupat, oyster sauce, soy sauce, ginger tea and puddings as best sellers, Sri Nona said the company aspires to be the preferred brand that delivers quality products to Malaysian households (pic source

Its distributors are scattered across Jordan, the UK, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. 

Most recently, additionally to food manufacturing, Adabi has diversified its portfolio to include the Flamitoz snack as well as the Powercat pet food. 

Another local homegrown F&B, Sri Nona Food Industries Sdn Bhd is best known for its flagship product — the Nona Ketupat (rice cakes) and oyster sauce ranges. 

First established in 1975 as a trading company, Sri Nona started operating as a small-scale manufacturer during its early years. 

According to its website, through its collaboration with Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade), the company has managed to penetrate international markets as well. 

Listing ketupat, oyster sauce, soy sauce, ginger tea and puddings as best sellers, Sri Nona said the company aspires to be the preferred brand that delivers quality products to Malaysian households. 

“Our aim is to provide the convenience of cooking to our consumers with busy and modern lifestyles,” it said. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition

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