A Singaporean superfood company made the Financial Times' list of high-growth companies in the Asia-Pacific region.
In Singapore, it is also listed in the 100 Fastest Growing Companies in Singapore.
Known as Nature & # 39; s Superfoods, the company is primarily an online business that sells everything from quinoa to chia seeds and exports to overseas markets such as Cambodia and Hong Kong.
The brand doubled its absolute sales in 2020 and achieved an absolute growth of 107.8 percent despite the reality of a global pandemic.
Nature & # 39; s Superfoods achieved an average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.6 percent with just 19 employees.
In addition, it grossed $ 1.32 million in 2020. However, it's not about the numbers, but about the desire to bring better and healthier food alternatives to Asia.
"We don't sell everything under the sun, although it takes longer," says Serene Cha, one of the three co-founders of Nature & # 39; s Superfoods. "We're sticking to our mission: to deliver clean superfoods."
A chance encounter in Peru
Nature & # 39; s Superfoods originated in Peru, where Serene and her co-founders Julian Lee and Quek Ai Lay traveled in the early 2000s.
Between 2003 and 2009, the trio, in their late twenties at the time, worked in international schools on weekdays and volunteered at NGOs on the weekends to teach English to disadvantaged youth in Shantytowns.
In 2005 they started a translation service called Actspand after discovering that freelance translation jobs are one of the "most portable industries" and rely on their translation jobs as a form of basic income.
Left to right: Serene Cha, Julian Lee, Quek Ai Lay / Photo credit: Nature & # 39; s Superfoods
While visiting a girls' home, the trio was first introduced to Peruvian superfoods. They were served chicken quinoa and their host explained the benefits of the dish.
"That's where our interest began … and we started looking into the possibility of bringing Peruvian superfoods to Singapore," says Serene.
The trio returned to Singapore for good in 2009, taking their translation business with them. By then, Actspand had grown steadily and its founders had made a list of the superfood wholesalers' contacts in Peru.
It wasn't long before they launched a new superfood industry. By 2011, Nature & # 39; s Superfoods was launched and they started importing superfoods to Singapore as one of the first to pioneer superfoods in Southeast Asia.
"Clean", not "trendy" superfood
"Nature & # 39; s Superfoods started out as a very small company," says Serene. “We got off to a slow start with very few products. (Things like) quinoa and chia seeds were still unknown to the Singaporeans in 2011. "
Despite the slow traction, Nature & # 39; s Superfoods refused to import "trendy" superfoods and focused on importing "clean", albeit relatively unknown, superfoods.
This includes everything from yacon root to sacha inchi seeds to raw cocoa.
Superfoods have a variety of health benefits, from promoting cardiovascular health to helping weight loss to reversing the effects of aging.
Photo credit: Influencer – Mini Media
The brand relies on “clean” superfoods: products that are organic, vegetable, gluten-free, not genetically modified, have no preservatives, additives, refined sugars and have a low glycemic index.
The focus on “clean” superfoods resulted in a late start for Nature & # 39; s Superfoods. However, efforts to educate their customers about the health benefits of their product resulted in the growth of a small and loyal fan base.
The key, says Serene, is serving the Asian palette. Nature & # 39; s Superfoods' social media and website are filled with recipes that adapt superfoods to Asian tastes.
Customers would call or go to their office to buy direct from the brand, even though Nature's superfoods are entirely web-based and have no retail store.
“A brand takes time to build for a niche market,” explains Serene. "It takes time for people to get used to superfoods."
Early Movers on RedMart
Despite the late start, the growth of Nature's superfood began to accelerate exponentially through 2015.
Serene estimates that sales grew 25 to 50 percent between 2014 and 2015.
The secret of this success is Nature Superfood's expansion into e-commerce platforms. To date, direct e-commerce sales to consumers account for approximately 50 percent of Nature Superfood's total sales.
RedMart, Nature & # 39; s Superfoods' biggest e-commerce champion. While Nature & # 39; s Superfoods is available on Shopee and Qoo10, RedMart remains the company's largest source of revenue for the company's e-commerce sales.
Image credit: Nature's Superfoods
The e-superfood business came to Red Mart between 2013 and 2014 as one of the platform's first pacemakers before it was acquired by e-commerce giant Lazada in 2016.
The switch to e-commerce has paid off. Currently, RedMart has more than 173,000 products on the platform and, through Lazada, attracts over 65 million active consumers in six different markets
Additionally, the online grocery market in Southeast Asia is expected to be valued at $ 309 billion by 2021. This growth will accelerate with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The online-based nature of Nature & # 39; s Superfoods also meant that it was one of the few companies that benefited from the breaker.
Serene estimates sales increased at least four times, which is in line with Lazada's reports that daily active use of RedMart increased 11 times during the lockdown.
Since the growth spurt of 2015, Nature & # 39; s Superfoods has diversified its sales channels and sold them to large supermarkets such as FairPrice, specialty stores, pharmacies and restaurants in the healthcare sector.
The brand also exports its product to overseas markets such as Cambodia and Hong Kong.
The right place, the right time
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to incorporate healthy eating habits into their lifestyles, which is driving the growth of the superfood industry worldwide.
For the Asia-Pacific region, the highest growth rate in the superfood industry is expected with a CAGR of 7.4 percent between 2020 and 2027.
Image credit: Nature's Superfoods
According to a survey by Ingredion, 80 percent of consumers in the region are concerned about the long-term effects of artificial ingredients on their health, and 70 percent are fully aware of the composition of their food.
Currently, the superfood market is highly fragmented and is dominated by regional and small businesses like Nature & # 39; s Superfoods.
The goal, says Serene, is to make superfoods available to everyone – not just consumers with abundant disposable incomes.
“We're passionate about superfoods, not just growing a trendy business,” Serene suggests. "We firmly believe in the benefits of superfoods for long-term health and we want to communicate this to our customers in all possible ways."
Selected image source: Superfoods from nature