These were the key trends highlighted by the business development manager of Singapore grocer and manufacturer Melvados, Bandana Kaur.
Based on this concept, it recently launched its latest and fourth brittle SKU, the Pisang Goreng brittle. It is inspired by the Malay snack called ‘pisang goreng’ or bananas fried in golden yellow batter.
The snack first retailed on 22 April to coincide with preparations for the Muslim festival of Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid-ul-Fitr), which fell on 3 May in Singapore.
According to Kaur, all 1,000 units of the first production run were sold out by 28 April.
“Fusion is everything right now. There is a real push for the localisation of a product. Our bestsellers are the D24 (durian) and onde-onde cakes. People are also more conscious about the ingredients and curious about food sources.
“Now, we are looking for distributors for our full range of 11 snack SKUs, specifically the fusion brittles and biscottis, and exploring opportunities in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam within the next three years until 2025,” said Kaur.
Established in 2004, Melvados is a family-run Singapore brand created to offer gourmet meals at affordable prices and convenience. The firm offers 235 unique SKUs of various types of food, such as brittles, biscottis, ice cream, pies, wraps, lasagne, cakes and bread.
It is a brand owned by Foodedge Gourmet and manufactures in a double-storey plant with eight kitchens and 20,000 square feet of floor space at Woodlands Terrace (northern Singapore).
Consumers can purchase products via its e-commerce site, eight outlets around Singapore, platforms such as Deliveroo, foodpanda, Grab, and select items from Amazon Fresh and supermarket chain NTUC Fairprice.
The first brittle, the onde-onde flavour (an ode to the Malay ‘kuih’ made of glutinous rice flour, palm sugar, pandan leaves and coconut shavings), was launched in Q1 2020 during Chinese New Year. Other flavours include the original (butterscotch and chocolate) and almond. It is popular among the Gen Zs and marketed using TikTok and Instagram.
The Pisang Goreng brittle was inspired by an outing to Singapore’s famous shopping centre Golden Mile Complex, where Kaur and her family had the Thai version of fried bananas in Dec 2021. They experimented with biscuits, but the brittle was a better solution.
A brittle batter has more liquid than biscuits and, in this case, contains real banana puree as its base. After baking, the brittle is topped with crushed banana corn flakes and banana chips. It retails in three packets for SGD$10 (USD$7).
“Consumers can taste the banana itself, bringing back elements of nostalgia. Our firm also observed that they reached for the product out of curiosity, and the low retail cost makes it a low-risk purchase. Our challenge is importing different varieties of bananas, logistics and knowing the source of the ingredients,” said Kaur.
After ‘going bananas’, Melvados is developing other local flavours and sugar-free versions for the brittle range, which can be expected to complete by Christmas.
The firm’s research and development (R&D) team consists of a head chef, two chefs and two quality control managers. The team is also working on reduced-sugar ice cream, no-sugar yoghurts and reduced-sugar brownies.
Melvados plans to achieve more touchpoints with consumers through many more cafes, shelves and counters. It also targets bulk orders to big entities like ministries and corporations and aims to open 15 outlets by 2025.
Compared to conventional food businesses, Melvados managed to triple its revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its growth was also prominent during the festive seasons of Christmas and Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“We were in a lucky space. People were working from home. COVID-19 is our fire to do better with half our manpower. The challenge now is to maintain the momentum. Only time will tell. In light of loosening restrictions, we need to reframe our mindset and use novel ingredients, healthier alternatives and recipes. We are excited. There’s so much to be done. Volatility is scary, manpower changes, but it’s nice how we can learn to focus and embrace this excitement to find new locations,” she said.