Consumers are ready to pay a premium for healthy foods: Edwin Wang of Signature Market

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With the Covid-19 pandemic exposing the vulnerabilities of our bodies, people have started taking hygiene very seriously. However, the bigger concern has to be the growing number of chronic diseases such as cardiac issues, cancer, diabetes, and the rise in healthcare costs. This has led to the popularity of a healthy diet, which includes organic food products.

As per reports, the global organic food market is anticipated to have a growth of USD 201.77 billion in 2020 to USD 221.37 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7 percent. The organic food market is expected to reach $380.84 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 14.5%. Another report revealed that the global organic food and beverages market is expected to grow from USD 255.2 billion in 2020 to USD 849.7 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 16.42%. 

Region-wise, North America has held the largest market share of 39% in 2020. The Asia-Pacific market is anticipated to witness significant growth due to an increase in the disposable income of the consumers and large exports from developed regions such as North America and Europe. 

The only factors that are limiting the growth of the organic food market are the high packaging, logistics and distribution costs. This is because organic foods do not have the same amount of preservatives as conventional foods. Therefore, organic food tends to be more prone to bacterial infections, leading to a shorter shelf life. 

The organic food market has distribution channels including conventional retailers, natural sales channels, supermarkets/hypermarkets, company-owned stores and online stores. With increasing competition, organic food manufacturers are introducing ready-to-eat snacks, medicinal plants and herbs and organic juices. 

In the APAC region, we came across Signature Market that is said to be the first online marketplace in Malaysia for natural and organic products. Founded in 2014, the company began with raw and natural snacks. Today, the company delivers naturally-derived products spanning from raw materials to everyday essentials across Southeast Asia through its online platform. 

Signature Market founders L-R: Edwin Wang and John Cheng

We spoke to Edwin Wang, co-founder and CEO of Signature Market to learn about the latest trends in the online organic FMCG market.

Tell us about your journey in the online FMCG market.

I started Signature Market along with John Cheng in 2014 using the money we earned and saved from our previous employment. We started with roasted nuts and dry fruits. We took orders directly from the customer over the online platform. The selection process for the raw foods is carried out in-house; as is the packaging. What started from a small facility has now expanded into a 40,000 sq.ft. facility in Malaysia. Today, we import the raw materials from Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the  Americas, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Thailand. 

Signature Market is currently expanding beyond the food industry and ventured into cosmetics and skin care as well. We are venturing into plant-based beauty products such as toner, serum, and cleansers. We have recently introduced products for Aromatherapy and 100% essential oils.

What is your idea of a healthy lifestyle?

For us, a healthy lifestyle includes three areas which are physical health, mental health and spiritual health. This is why Signature Market promotes food products that do not have any preservatives and artificial flavours. Our Aromatherapy products help to build a calm state of mind and the workshops that we conduct are helpful to attain spiritual balance.

For our 7th anniversary celebration, we have chosen the theme ‘code of love’ as a gratitude to our customers. We believe that love can heal everything and it is essential to be surrounded by your loved ones. We have over 600 participants registered for the event.

What is the key trend to look out for in the organic FMCG market?

As consumer demands tend to vary a lot, it is imperative for entrepreneurs to invest in new innovations. Today’s FMCG companies need to understand the consumer demands of tomorrow, and for that, they need to be more consumer-oriented. We need to understand that the customers are willing to pay a slight premium for a better quality of food.

Excerpts of a Zoom interaction with Ujal Nair. Transcription by Ramya S

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