The art of food service

By Chee Jo-Ey

FONTERRA Brands (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd’s foodservice arm Anchor Food Professionals Malaysia-Brunei continues to build on its presence and drive further awareness on the importance of dairy nutrition among Malaysians.

Its foodservice director, Jack Tan says: “Anchor Food Professionals continues to be the preferred choice for butter, cheese and creams for professional chefs and this is a result of our ongoing focus on innovation, and research and development, which has been the backbone of Fonterra’s growth in Malaysia.”

As Malaysia is one of Fonterra’s leading markets, it is also a key market focus for its global strategy. “Over the last 40 years, we’ve built a strong presence. We have two manufacturing sites and two offices with 700 local employees and market-leading brands. We want to continue to build on that presence, drive further awareness on the importance of dairy nutrition amongst Malaysians and grow our footprint.

“The price of dairy has always seen ups and downs, it is part of how the industry works. The dairy industry in Malaysia is incredibly competitive – and to be successful, we need to add more value to our consumers than our competitors through our products, services and expertise,” Tan adds.

The company is constantly looking at how it can evolve its products or introduce new ones to better meet the needs of consumers and help them achieve healthy, balanced diets.

To do this, it invests heavily in research and development. “We listen closely to the consumers in order to meet their nutritional needs. This is the reason we have a product for almost every stage in life, from pre-conception.”

Tan says through its foodservice business, Anchor Food Professionals delivers new tastes and products for chefs, bakers, caterers, commercial kitchens, hotels, restaurants, quick service restaurants and cafes.

He observes that the food business has been resilient to economic downturns.

“Generally speaking, the food business is one of the more recession-proof industries out there with the segment having seen double-digit growth for the past two or three years. But to be honest, the food business is very unique and continuously changing so it’s very exciting.

“People live to eat nowadays and food trends are constantly evolving. Nobody would have seen the bubble tea phenomenon coming five years ago but today it is everywhere and was in fact one of the biggest trends last year,” Tan says.

Behind great recipes

“At Anchor Food Professionals, we are the preferred choice for butter, cheese and cream for professional chefs,” Tan says.

“For example, The Alley is one of our key customers. At last count, there were some 850 bubble tea players in the market in Malaysia and a majority of them work with us. We supply products like milk, cream cheese and cream to our partners.”

In foodservice, what the company does is exploring new and innovative ways of dining that excite consumers.

“For example, right now there is demand for natural products, so we highlight the fact that our milk is 100% natural. For the past couple of years, our job is to discover new trends around the world and we focus on food innovation but our big categories are still the bakery, pizza and pasta shops.

“Bakery makes up about 50% of our business in Malaysia. A majority if not all the bakeries are Anchor’s customers and we count household names like Tong Kee and Lavender as some of our partners.”

Keeping up with new trends

“For Anchor Food Professionals, we’re always on the lookout for the next big food trend,” Tan notes. One of the key things it’s zeroing in is convenience with the rise of stores like Family Mart and also to-go products for consumers with tight schedules.

He cites the example of the company’s Anchor Extra Stretch which is a cheese product. “The research and development team made the cheese in such a way that it remains stretchy even after reheating so it maintains the same texture and taste as fresh cheese.”

The company also sees a rise in demand for natural products as consumers pursue a healthier lifestyle and are more conscious about what goes into the stomach. “We are always advocating the benefits of dairy products like how they build a better immune system and how the vitamins can support an active lifestyle. People also want to know the source of products … Anchor’s dairy products are from New Zealand. Anchor is synonymous with quality. We highlight the clean air, water and free grazing cows to create New Zealand’s prominence that drives our product quality.” Tan says.

Anchor Food Professionals reflects the way the foodservice team is doing business, acting as consultants, working behind the scenes to deliver exciting new tastes and products for chefs, bakers, caterers, commercial kitchens, hotels, restaurants, quick service restaurants and cafes.

The team helps businesses with all aspects of their operations, from front-of-house presentation, and pricing and promotion, to enhancing yield and taste and delivering exciting new menu options.

By getting to know its customers’ businesses, Anchor Food Professionals uses the knowledge to create the most suitable dairy ingredients to meet the specific needs of chefs, bakers and restaurant owners.

The products are not consumer-facing so you normally won’t find them in supermarkets but in ingredient shops. “We supply to bakeries and restaurants. Our journey as Anchor Food Professionals is to go beyond selling a product and giving our customers a price. How can we go in as a service?

“We focus on providing solutions to businesses like how to help a restaurant make more money, increase efficiency or be better in flavour infusion. For example, our product Extra Yield Cooking Cream allows you to make mushroom sauce, hollandaise sauce and more using only a single product. This translates to simplification, waste reduction and hence profit maximisation,” Tan explains. – Feb 5, 2020

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