Having worked in the global halal media industry for several years now, we have been watching a countless number of companies in every sector of the global Islamic economy. Some of these companies have shown tremendous growth during these years. Now, they are becoming truly global enterprises ready to take on the global halal industry with full force. CareFood Industries from Malaysia is one such company.
Recently, we spoke with the President & CEO of the company, Mr. Mickey Quah to discuss his company`s performance in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite all the problems the halal food industry has been facing for several months now, he seemed to quite optimistic in his outlook for the growth prospects of the industry and his company. The following are the excerpts of the interview we had with him.
1. Could you please let us know a bit about yourself and how you got started in the halal business?
On your question on how I got started with the Halal food business, I must say that it was a natural development out of circumstances.
Fundamentally, I am a foodie and love the local specialties with which I grew up. I started my career with two multinational companies. While working with them, I was posted in different parts of Malaysia. This gave me the opportunity to appreciate the local specialties in the towns that I was in. When I decided to be an entrepreneur after working for these multinationals for over 15 years, I decided to do something which was both a job and a hobby.
Organizing International events in Malaysia, I had the opportunity to meet with participants from all over the world. Whether they were here for the KL International Motor Show, International Polo, or and International Supercross Masters race, the participants were all looking for Malaysian Food and not a steak or a burger.
On a personal level, I found that in my generation, the authenticity of our food heritage began to deteriorate and that the great cooking of my mother’s time is beginning to be hard to find at various places. Hence, I saw an opportunity to preserve this heritage as well as the market for such food products.
Today, we are already in this business as an Asian sauce manufacturer for about 30 years and export most of our products on a wholesale basis.
2.: How would you define your ideal customers and partners in the global markets?
In this business, we are always on the lookout for long-term customers to partner with. Customers who demand quality in the food they deal with are the best customers for us. It will be difficult for us to deal with customers who only are conscious of the price and disregard the quality as well as the health aspect of the food which they handle. We take the price that all our products manufactured are wholesome, healthy, and Halal certified. We are also certified to meet all international quality standards like HACCP, GMP. ISO 9000 and FSSC 22000, besides being registered with the US FDA.3.
3.: How was your company performing before the COVID-19 pandemic started?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were doing very well, being awarded the Taste innovation Award in Anuga and the business of the Year award from the International Trade Council and flooded with inquiries after the Anuga Food show. 4. How is your business impacted due to the ongoing coronavirus problem worldwide?
4.: What are your plans once the pandemic is over? Do you see any upward trends in your industry due to COVID-19?
However, when we are back to work after the lockdown of about two months, we faced an economic pandemic! Most of our customers are restaurant chains, cruise ships, hotels, and central kitchens. These all fell victims to the COVID-19 pandemic. So as part of the supply chain, we were immediately confronted with a bleak future.
However, we note two interesting developments in the market. One of the retail consumer businesses was increasing as people are beginning to cook at home. Two, online business for Food is also on the increase. Because of these considerations, we have steered our business focus onto these two areas. You will be seeing us conducting product webinars and promotions on social media soon.
5. Will coronavirus-related restrictions affect the way you do your business locally and globally?
In the meanwhile, fortunately, our orders for the retail consumer product have increased and we are now receiving inquiries from Canada, the USA, Russia, and Japan for our soup bowl noodle meal kits. We are thankful that with our wide range of sauces which spreads over several business lines, we are nimble enough to change our focus and adjust accordingly to keep going and maintain an optimistic outlook for the future.