While these three staples are currently the most popular beverages preferred by consumers all over the world, Malaysian multigrain drink firm Happy Grains is looking to challenge this status quo with a healthier offering.
“We all know that drinks like MILO, [coffee and tea] are commercially extremely popular right now, but we believe that multigrain beverages such as ours can offer an option that allows consumers to start their day even healthier,” Happy Grains Founder Dr Go Kiam Seng told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“These are all popular breakfast drinks, and from our customer feedback, we know that many who have tasted Happy Grains also prefer it as a breakfast drink – so this is definitely a market we are targeting.
“Of course it can also be for other consumption occasions like a mid-day snack or for supper, but currently the breakfast occasion seems the most popular.”
Amongst the benefits Happy Grains can offer over traditional breakfast drinks includes a low calorie count (100kcal per cup), no added sugar as it uses stevia, and different nutritional advantages and functions based on the products’ grain blend.
“The Original Mixed Grains Drink is meant to be a one-cup-is-all-you-need option, for those buying it for a family with family members of different ages and for that we’ve added soy and walnut peptides for improved memory and concentration,” said Dr Go.
“We also have a Black Seeds Drink made from a variety of black seeds and grains like glutinous rice, black goji berries, black sesame, acai and more – this product targets two consumer groups: The elderly, as it is made to improve bone and kidney health; as well as beauty seekers as it also has anti-ageing and anti-oxidative properties to improve skin appearance.
“Another standout is the Choco Grains Drink which is meant for kids – we’ve added lutein, which is usually used in vision supplements, to protect from blue light and boost eye health, as well as probiotics and colostrum to boost immune development.”
Multigrain drinks are not new to the Malaysian market, having experienced a wave of popularity around a decade back which died down after a few years – but the rise in demand for healthier food and beverage options after the COVID-19 pandemic hit has given the sector a shot in the arm of sorts.
“There are currently quite a few multigrain products in the market, but no one representative brand as consumers quite often don’t know what to choose, and many are dissatisfied with the mouthfeel of these products which tend to be rougher than coffee or hot chocolate,” said Dr Go.
“Central to Happy Grains’ development has been the adoption of our patented Superfine Grinding Technology, which has enabled the grains and seeds in our products to reach a never-before achievable ultra-refined state, allowing 4x higher absorption of nutrients and giving a much smoother mouthfeel.
“We believe that this technology as well as the health benefits Happy Grains can provide give us an edge in our journey to become the representative multigrain brand for Malaysia.”
Proven in hospitals
Dr Go’s confidence is not unfounded, as the firm has already found a firm following amongst many local hospitals as a product suitable for patients.
“We’ve been in the hospital food market for about six years now, and currently have the largest market share for this category within the hospital sector,” he said.
“Professionals in major hospitals such as Mahkota and Parkway have certified our product to be suitable for patients, including those who are frail or post-surgery – so whilst we are also targeting this market, we believe that our presence here will also give general consumers added confidence as to the quality of our products.
As for regular retail, Happy Grains is currently also already established in some 2,000 retail outlets across the country, particularly in mainstream groceries like Jaya Grocer and Seasons Grocer, pharmacies, marts, herbal stores like the national Soon Thye Hang chain and more. Each bottle of Happy Grains is currently retailing for RM99 (US$23.64) for either a 1.2kg bottle (Original), 1kg bottle (Black Seeds) or 800g bottle (Choco Grains).
“Our next big move will be into modern trade, particularly the major pharmacies like Guardian and major supermarkets like Aeon – that’s coming up in the next two months or so,” he said.
“We do believe that having widespread presence in Malaysia is a good stepping stone though – Malaysian consumers are very trend-conscious and accepting of health foods, and as long as there is sufficient education and promotion there usually isn’t too much resistance.
“The Malay market can be harder to enter although health awareness is also rising there, but it’s a very big focus market for us and we are focusing on getting the product flavour and taste right for them and keep up to date with our halal certifications.
The firm is also currently actively promoting its products in Indonesia and China as new potential target markets.