Asmara currently has four functional drinks which were launched in April 2018 with functionalities including immunity, digestion, cognition, and anti-ageing.
The brand is known to combine different culture’s traditional medicinal practices like Ayurveda, TCM, and Jamu with Western scientific research to produce their functional beverages.
According to the Asmara’s co-founder and managing director, Ramesh Krish Kumar, Asmara was established to revolutionise how Singaporeans consume functional products.
“We saw that Singapore was reliant on other countries for health functional products, mostly Japan, Korea and Taiwan. But we have a lot of traditional ingredients in our region such as TCM and Ayurveda herbs.”
New functional powders
Asmara will launch six powders which would all contain symbiotic (probiotics and prebiotics). The functional powders are categorised into versatile and pure-blend powders.
The versatile category includes four powders, with functionality in immunity, antioxidant, stress and cognition, energy and vitality. It can be used in any applications, from soups, pasta to drinks.
The pure-blend category is marketed as a premium range, which Ramesh said were ginseng-based powders. “They contain American ginseng, Red Korea ginseng, Indian ginseng and Peruvian ginseng.”
Bitter ingredients, positive feedback
According to Ramesh, the biggest challenge for the firm was perfecting the taste and flavour development. “Even though consumers look for products with health functions, taste is still a key factor in purchase decision.”
While the firm was initially skeptical of using ingredients that people were unfamiliar with, the consumer feedback turned out positive for its functional beverages.
“We have a product, Astri33 which contains 33 herbs, including turmeric and liquorice which give off an astringent and bitter aftertaste on its own, but we managed to turn it into a palatable drink.”
Ramesh told us sales have doubled compared to six months ago. Among the four beverages it currently sells, the best-selling product is Ashta-8 which is a berry drink with antioxidant, satiety and prebiotic functionality.
He expressed that this product sells almost triple the amount than the other three products. He thinks the reason is because of the pleasant berry taste and that consumers are becoming more conscious about weight management, and are looking for products to induce satiety or with higher fibre content.
The beverages retail for S$6.50 to S$10.50 (US$4.80-$7.77) on e-commerce sites such as Lazada, RedMart, GrabFood, Deliveroo, Shopee, as well as supermarkets including Scoop Wholefoods, Mahota and Prime Premium.
Ramesh said there are plans to expand into more mainstream supermarkets in the future, including Cold Storage and Fairprice Finest.
Ramesh also told us he hopes for Asmara to be available in Australia, New Zealand and Middle East by 2021, following demand from those regions.
Particularly for the Middle Eastern countries like Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar, he said consumers were constantly looking for novel health products especially in health and beauty, which are not always readily available there.
“They (consumers) want something that is reputable, credible, scientific, and manufactured in a country where they can trust, and Singapore is well-known for our trust and quality.”
“It also helps that our ingredients are all vegetarian-based.” Ramesh added there are plans to enter Europe, China and South Korea in the future.