Kantan Food Origins
Kantan Food finds its own silver lining during the pandemic
Ming, the founder of Kantan Food, has had the idea of selling ready to cook paste for several years but it wasn’t realized until MCO (Movement Control Order) happened last year.
Ming was working as a caterer, catering to two hostel canteens at that time. It wasn’t until schools were forced to close to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19 that Ming had to resort to other means of business.
With good responses from family and friends, Ming decided to venture into the instant cooking paste business. So, Kantan Food’s ready to cook pastes were born.
Growing their Business
Relying on social media to reach out to customers
What started out as merely an idea has finally bloomed into a business. Kantan Food is steadily growing, slowly but surely.
Due to the MCO, they were unable to do physical marketing such as roadshows and exhibitions. But that didn’t stop them from reaching out to customers. Instead, they turned to digital marketing.
As of now, they use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to reach out to customers. Thus, they were able to target housewives, small families, young parents with young kids, and age groups above the 30s.
Continuously evolving and expanding
Heirloom recipes that were passed down to Ming from his mother, Aunty Annie, are used to make Kantan Food signature products, the instant cooking paste in Malaysia. It started out with only two recipes.
Now, they added four more recipes so altogether there are six products for customers to choose from. All of these recipes are customers’ favorites.
However, Kantan Food won’t stop there. They are actively looking out for opportunities to add more recipes to provide more variety to their customers.
Making the Packaging More Appealing
Kantan Food decided to repackage its food paste packaging to make it more appealing to customers. They initially packed the paste in a glass jar with a regular text sticker.
The initial idea was to be different than similar products sold in the market. However, Ming’s wife, Carly disliked the idea and suggested that they put pictures of the product on the packaging.
Kantan Food takes every suggestion to improve their products seriously no matter how small it is so eventually they changed the packaging.
The paste is now packed in a paper box with the actual meal displayed on the packaging. The colors of the packaging are in pastel colors because the founder is fond of pastel colors which he thinks customers will appreciate.
Better Packaging for Better Quality
Not only to make the products more appealing to customers but there were also other factors that were taken into consideration when redesigning the packaging. They wanted to make the cooking paste last longer.
Kantan Food’s instant pastes contain zero preservatives. Therefore, with glass jar packaging, it was difficult to maintain the quality of the paste because there was no sterilization process and vacuum packing to get rid of bacteria.
Because of that, they couldn’t ship nationwide and overseas as the paste will turn bad during the shipping process. On top of that, glass jar breaks easily and is more costly than paper packaging, especially during shipping.
However, the new paper packaging resolves all these problems and issues. Not only it is more appealing, but it is also more convenient for them and their customers.
Kantan Food Process to Make the Best Instant Paste
Coming out with quality products is not an effortless task
Kantan Food reached out to a MARDI (Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute) consultant. They also attended courses to create top-quality products.
They learned how to make the product safe to consume through proper heating and sterilization processes. To achieve this, they underwent several R&D (Research and Development) processes in the span of a few months.
A proper heating process with the right temperature and the right duration is crucial to kill the bacteria and prevent them from growing inside the packaging.
For the sterilization process, they use a medium scaled sterilization machine that can sterilize 200 to 300 packages per round which will usually take 2 hours to complete. Sterilization is important to ensure no microorganisms growth inside the packaging.
Preserving the Authentic Malaysian Taste
100% Malaysian food products
Since they are working on a bigger scale to fit the demands of customers, they have to use machines to produce the paste and that includes chop, blend and stir the ingredients.
Nevertheless, efforts were made to make sure the products stay genuine. All of their cooking pastes such as Rendang, Fish Curry, and Assam Pedas are made with fresh and local ingredients to maintain the localized flavors.
They always make sure to buy the ingredients from local markets to ensure the products are 100% authentic Malaysian food products that their customers love.
These ingredients include the most authentic Malaysian flavors such as sambal belacan, kantan, turmeric leaves, and more.
Keeping Kantan Food Genuine
The ready to cook cooking paste business of course has its own competitors. There are a lot of established and booming businesses selling instant cooking paste in the market. However, Kantan Food doesn’t falter because they believe that their products have their own speciality.
Most instant cooking paste suppliers, especially the big ones, put preservatives in their products so they last longer on the shelf.
However, pastes that have preservatives will change the original taste. Kantan Food’s cooking paste has no preservatives at all. They want to retain the original Malaysian taste.
Therefore, their products have their own loyal customers who have grown to love the genuine taste of pastes with zero preservatives.
Keeping Kantan Food Healthy
Besides, it is also more on the unhealthy side due to all the chemicals put into the paste. That is why Kantan Food decides to not use preservatives. They want to produce only healthy products for their customers.
Worry about the shelf life? Don’t worry. Kantan Food has it covered. They make it their utmost priority to make sure no bacteria will be able to grow inside the packaging of their products through the sterilization process thus making their products last longer.
Their paste can last for at least 2 years as long as the paste is not exposed to bacteria. So, all you ever need is just a proper racking system to store the unopen paste at room temperature in order to keep it safe and fresh.
However, do note that the paste must be kept in the refrigerator once opened to avoid exposure to heat and bacteria.
Kantan Food Future Plans
Since their business is fairly new, they want to focus more on solidifying their status as a paste manufacturer in the Malaysian markets.
To do that, first, they must acquire a halal certification so that they can target their products to the Muslim market and at the same time ease expansion.
Like any other business, their long-term goal is definitely to expand globally. However, the current goal is to have more domestic customers before they can expand their business overseas.
Finally, they want to be the brand that people will remember when they think of authentic ready to cook paste.
A Bit of Advice for Future Business Owners
Kantan Food also shared a bit of advice for future business owners. Especially those wishing to venture into the paste manufacturing business.
Kantan Food decided to go into the paste business despite the pandemic. So if they can do it, others can also do it.
Be the brands that people will remember generations over for their authentic and genuine taste.