Thursday, January 21

Feeding the world with a fanfare of flavours

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TA01851For generations, the Nestle brand has been an iconic household name across the globe.

Having been around for more than a century, many relate to the brand as one that offers a wide range of confectioneries, healthy food products, nutritious beverages and more.

From the internationally well-known Milo, to staple breakfast food like Nestum cereals, to the all popular  Maggie instant noodles with its staggering line of flavours – Nestle’s products have grown to become a part of our everyday lives.

Since 1866, Nestle upholds its commitment of providing high quality, tasty, safe, and nutritious products to consumers, in line with its slogan ‘Good Food, Good Life’.

The company first set foot in Malaysia more than a hundred years ago in 1912. Listed on Bursa Malaysia as Nestle (Malaysia) Bhd (Nestle Malaysia) in 1989, the company now markets over 300 halal products across Malaysia.

Nestle Malaysia was also the first food and beverage company to be certified ‘halal’ by the Malaysian Government when it first introduced the halal certification in 1994.

In a statement on November 3, 2015 in conjunction with the Nestle Halal Forum, Nestle Malaysia tagged itself as the biggest halal producer, exporting to over 50 countries.

More recently, Nestle Malaysia had proved its robustness, having weathered the storm in the current weak consumer market in the country.

For the first half of 2015 (1H15), most analysts believe Nestle Malaysia is well positioned to overcome uncertainties in the market.

Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd’s research team (Kenanga Research) in its analysis report, commented that it was encouraged by Nestle Malaysia’s 1H15 net profit as the company appears prepared for sluggish consumer spending by improving its production efficiency.

“We also think that diverting the savings from efficiency gains into marketing campaigns bodes well for the group in further strengthening its strong market position as well as shortening the transition period for consumers to adapt to the new costing environment.”

Its third quarter of 2015 (3Q15) results also came in better than expected in spite of weak consumer sentiments. According to Nestle Malaysia’s October 22, 2015 press statement, it noted that the increase in its turnover was mainly driven by growth in domestic sales led by new product launches, consumer campaigns and improvements in its export business.

Alois Hofbauer, managing director of Nestle Malaysia, said in the statement, “Despite tough market conditions, our domestic and export businesses saw substantial growth during the quarter under review. In the domestic market, our new product launches and our successful Nestle Lagi Sihat, Lagi Happy’consumer campaign, along with other marketing and promotional activities, were core contributors in driving sales in spite of soft consumer demand.”

In an interview recording of Nestle Malaysia’s Hofbauer with Astro Awani uploaded on YouTube by NestleMalaysia on August 31, 2015, the managing director pointed out Nestle puts consumers at the forefront of its strategy to remain a premium brand in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

During the interview, he commented that a key strategy to Nestle’s success is building the trust between the consumer, the products and the company.

Hofbauer had also highlighted that another important factor to Nestle’s brand success is its emphasis on great taste as well as nutrition and nourishment.

He highlighted an example of Malaysia and Nestle’s flourishing relationship between consumers and the brand  is the company’s effort in producing a number of new products developed specifically for the Malaysian market.

Nestle Malaysia’s show of commitment towards local consumers have rippled through its key product brands such as Maggi.

Nestle Malaysia’s Maggi instant noodle line has become a national sensation as its range of noodles are uniquely developed to suit the taste of local consumers.  Maggi’s instant noodles’ unique taste makes it recognisable and sought-after by most Malaysians who have grown up with the Maggie instant noodle brand.

BizHive Weekly was given the opportunity to talk to representatives of Nestle Malaysia’s Maggi in East Malaysia – with flavours exclusive for the East Malaysian and Bruneian markets.

 Nestle Maggi: Delighting local tastebuds for generations

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The Maggi brand originated from Switzerland where in 1863 Julius Maggi created a recipe of flavours to bring added taste to meals.

Known for his nutrition-oriented approach, Julius Maggi had discovered a solution to create a product that would be quick to prepare yet nutritious in the form of a protein based vegetable dish, which was quick, easy and inexpensive to prepare.

The results were two instant pea soups and an instant bean soup. In 1886, Maggi became recognised as a pioneer of industrial food production and healthy cooking by introducing dehydrated soups that were ready for cooking.

In 1947 Nestle acquired the Maggi brand. Today, whether its Maggi’s bouillons, soups, seasonings, noodles or sauces, consumers have come to know and trust the Maggi brand for its high quality, convenience and nutrition.

To most consumers, Maggi has become synonymous with taste and quality. Now, over 600 million packs of Maggi Noodles are sold a year, which is equivalent to one pack for every person in Southeast Asia.

The premium brand has also proven itself to be worthy of its high-quality qualification via the number of awards it has won over the years.

In 2015, Nestle Maggi in Malaysia won product of the Year (POY) Malaysia 2015/16 Awards in the instant noodle category for its Maggi Royale Korean Spicy Braised Beef Cup and at the recently held Putra Brand Awards 2015, Maggi won Bronze under the ‘Foodstuff’ category.

Its advertising efforts have also been given recognitions through various awards. The Maggi Noodles two minutes Noodles’ ‘Bestnya Kawen’ campaign, for example, was awarded the ‘The First Engagement Lightbox’ from Malaysia and was featured on Google’s Rich Media Gallery.

Its Maggi Noodles (Premium range) Maggi Royale ‘The ultimate noodles adventure’ campaign was awarded ‘Best in Class’ by Nestlé Global Team and The MARKies for ‘Best Idea – TV by Advertising and Marketing Award Malaysia in 2015 campaign.

With these awards, Nestle Maggi continues its commitment to delight consumers.

Over in East Malaysia, Nestle Malaysia’s Maggi journey dates back to 1993, when it was first established its 8,000 square metre Maggi factory in Sejingkat, Kuching.

The Sejingkat factory produces high quality Maggi Instant Noodles such as the Maggi 2 Minute Noodle (M2MN) range and Maggi BIG (Kari and Ayam) for Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei markets.

The factory is also producing Maggi’s new addition to the family: the Maggi BIG KOMBO 2 in 1 Mi Kolo + Sup.

“East Malaysia market is a very important market for Maggi in terms of the love of the consumers here for instant noodles.

“Especially for Sarawakians, instant noodles have become part of the main meal. Many of the consumers here take it as a complete meal.

“East Malaysians also love this brand. We also put a lot of effort and continuous commitment in contributing back to the society as well as dedicating to the flavours here,” said Ivy Tan, Nestle Malaysia, Maggi Business Development manager for East Malaysia, during an interview at Nestle Malaysia Maggi’s Sejingkat factory.

In fact, she pointed out, according a survey by Nielsen, Nestle Maggi’s instant noodles is the leading brand in East Malaysia as well as Malaysia.

True to Nestle Malaysia’s policy of placing consumers on the forefront, Tan highlighted that Maggi in East Malaysia is continuously strengthening its integral commitment of delighting local consumers in these states through contributing to the society as well as providing what the local consumers want.

“Sarawak is a very important market to us. That is why we would like to continue to delight the local taste buds here,” Tan commented.

“We always go for localised taste, Maggi’s instant noodles here are different from that sold in other countries.

“Because food is a very localised aspect, the key thing is, we try to be as close as possible to the local consumers by providing the things that they like. That’s how we’ve evolved with Sarawak,” she added.

To uphold its commitment in placing consumers upfront, Nestle Malaysia’s Maggi has enhanced its commitment to meet Sarawak’s culinary tastes by introducing its own version of Sarawakians’ favourite dish: Mi Kolo.

Recently launched exclusively for the East Malaysia and Brunei markets, the ‘Maggi BIG KOMBO 2 in 1 Mi Kolo + Sup’ embodies Sarawak’s Mi Kolo and adds a touch of ‘Maggi’ with its noodles as well as its own blend of Mi Kolo flavours.

Evolving with East Malaysia

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The ‘Maggi BIG KOMBO 2 in 1 Mi Kolo + Sup’ is the first of its kind in the state as well as the nation.  It is the first instant noodle in Malaysia with a unique two in one combination of Mi Kolo and soup.

Tan emphasised, “We are not here to replace your favourite Mi Kolo.” She added, Maggi understands that there are a wide variety of Mi Kolo in Sarawak, with each Mi Kolo stall in the state selling different kinds of Mi Kolo, prepared in their own unique ways.

She pointed out that Maggi has developed its own Mi Kolo by implementing Maggi’s taste without running away from what truly makes Mi Kolo what it is.

The development of Maggi’s Mi Kolo was a long and tedious process. However, Tan quipped that it was all worth it as Maggi has come up with a product that is truly close to Sarawakians’ hearts.

She noted, “It took us quite a while to figure out how to get that Mi Kolo taste. That’s why we have this Mi Kolo KOMBO which comes in a combination of dry noodles and soup.

“It also comes with a bigger noodle cake. This, we think, is appropriate because it is dry noodles. We’ve found out that it is different from soup noodles where consumers can take the soup to feel fuller. It’s different for dry noodles.

“Then we came up with the soup. Based on our observations, we found out that for local consumers, when they eat the Mi Kolo, they will drink a bit of the soup. Some consumers would pour the soup into the bowl of noodles.”

Maggi’s Maggi BIG KOMBO 2 in 1 Mi Kolo + Sup is also Maggi’s first locally inspired product, Tan added.

According to Tan, the basis of Maggi’s Mi Kolo is to provide local consumers the convenience of cooking their own Mi Kolo at home or where ever they are.

“Mi kolo, although it looks simple, the preparation is quite tedious and it is not easy. It’s not easy to get the right blend of oil and flavours.

“Hence, this is a convenient solution that you can prepare anywhere, anytime. It also takes only two minutes to cook the instant noodle.

“If you do all the preparations concurrently, you’ll have the instant noodle done in about three minutes,” she said.

When asked on the duration it took for the research and development of Maggi BIG KOMBO 2 in 1 Mi Kolo + Sup, Tan noted that it took Nestle Maggi more than a year to come up with the perfect blend of flavours of this particular product.

On plans of expanding its range of instant noodles to include more local delicacies, Tan commented that for now, while Nestle Maggi has plenty of ideas on what to produce, it would like to focus more on its current products including the Maggi BIG KOMBO 2 in 1 Mi Kolo + Sup.

As for the availability of Maggi BIG KOMBO 2 in 1 Mi Kolo + Sup in Peninsular Malaysia, she commented, “At the moment, we don’t have any plans yet (to launch in West Malaysia). We would like to observe the market here in East Malaysia and Brunei first.

“We’ve already started our advertising on social medias such as Facebook and we get so many feedbacks on why is it not yet in West Malaysia.

“We just launched this, we would like to focus on our effort on ‘communicating’ with the locals, first. That is our commitment to East Malaysia.”

As for Maggi’s version of Sarawak Laksa, which was just launched in Peninsular Malaysia, she said that while the product is not yet available in Sabah and Sarawak, it will soon arrive on our shores.

Meanwhile, on Nestle Maggi’s other range of instant noodles in East Malaysia, Tan said Maggi’s 2 Minute Noodles Kari is its star product.

Differing largely from most curry instant noodles in the market in terms of taste, the all-time favourite is made with a unique blend of 12 spices including cloves, nutmeg, fenugreek, star anise and turmeric for the authentic taste of curry.

“Most Malaysians love this. Now, why is it different from all other instant noodles in the market?

“The research to cerate this product is complex. We have 12 unique spices for this product that we cook until ‘pecah minyak’ (cooked until oil separates from the spices).

“The making of the ingredients is a very long and tedious process. The ingredients that we put in to deliver that kind of taste to produce this quality of taste,”Tan explained, adding that the technology that Nestle Maggi uses is also different from what is used in the market.

Overall, at the Sejingkat factory, Nestle Maggi produces seven types of instant noodles, including the new Maggi BIG KOMBO 2 in 1 Mi Kolo + Sup as well as the BIG range Ayam and Kari noodles.

Emphasis on local sources

Aside from offering products to suit local needs, Nestle Maggi in East Malaysia also places emphasis on local sources.

In a bid to give back to the community, Tan pointed out that Nestle Maggi strives to ensure that processes under the value stream line are done locally. From packaging to sourcing, she noted that the company aims to employ the local community to participate in Nestle Maggi’s product processes.

“For the noodles’ cake, we use real wheat. While we source the wheat from Australia, we have a local mill here to process the noodle cakes. Everything else (in the production stream) is done locally,” she said.

Previously, she revealed, the factory in Sejingkat had depended on outsourced services, even from its counterparts in Peninsular Malaysia. However, over the years, she noted, its factory in Sejingkat has grown to depend on local sources instead.

The Sejingkat factory also employs locals. “For Sarawak, we have employed over 200 local employees. We also have our local sampling van and sampling promoters to promote our products.

“These are the things we are looking at in terms of reaching out to our local consumers.”

Tan also highlighted that Nestle Maggi is looking to increase its local sourcing as well as its engagement with local consumers.

‘Good food, good life’

Adhering to Nestle’s mission to balance great taste and nutrition, and to help consumers make healthier choices, Nestle Maggi also upholds the policy of a balanced meal.

While news portals are rife with articles on the detrimental effects of instant noodles, Nestle Maggi encourages consumers to eat healthy and practice a balanced diet.

Asked on these effects, Tan pointed out, “For Nestle, we always promote balanced and healthy diet. First, anything that we consume excessively is not good.

“We promote balanced and complete meal. These noodles serve as protein for a meal. Overall, we encourage consumers to add in vegetables, eggs, fish, meat, and others to suit the flavours of your choice.

“That’s why our packaging features complete meals. It’s how we consume it and the amount of it.”

She also noted that on the packaging of every Nestle products, there are nutritional guides for consumers.

With health as well as consumers’ tastebuds placed at the forefront of the brand’s strategy, it’s not hard to see why Nestle and Nestle Maggi are the nation’s premium and favourite brand.