‘Fantastic opportunity?’: Singapore functional food firm Asmara’s founder reveals that MNC is circling

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Asmara's range of functional drinks. © Asmara Facebook
Asmara's range of functional drinks. © Asmara Facebook

Related tags Singapore Asmara functional beverages

Singapore functional food firm Asmara has acknowledged that an MNC hopes to acquire the company, with three businesses in total keen to snap it up.

Founded in 2019 by Ramesh Krish Kumar and Tho Pin Da with a starting capital of just SGD$4,200 (US$3,038), Asmara is behind the products such as Health Tonics, Probiotic-Mood Snacks, Simha Tea, functional beverages​, ginseng and para-probiotics.

Last year, the firm also received its first angel investment.

“The rumours are true [supposed to be a secret] …An overseas MNC is planning to acquire Asmara fully.

“In fact, three entities have approached us, and we are in discussions with all three of them…We are astounded at how the news [have] spread so quickly, and we have more enquiries about others potentially acquiring [the firm] as well,” ​said founder, CEO, and food scientist Ramesh Krish Kumar in his LinkedIn post last week.

At the time of writing, he said that the firm was only considering offers from the three entities.

While the firm’s stakeholders are still conflicted on whether they should proceed with the potential acquisition deal, Kumar candidly pointed out that the offer “may be too good to miss as well.”

“Asmara has made zero decisions on whether to proceed or to keep our baby. It is a fantastic opportunity, but we are hesitant to give up our brainchild. Due to various NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and CA (confidential agreement) signed with all three MNCs and SMEs, I cannot share more.”

Almost closed down

The firm was on the brink of closure in 2019 and the situation was made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic amid a slowdown in the retail market.

During the start of the pandemic, the firm witnessed its online and supermarket sales driven by its immunity and weight management beverages, but there was a drop in sales from physical retail, including cafes, bistros, tourist spots, and restaurants.

Its roots began in the country’s Temasek Polytechnic’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department, which is aimed at revolutionising Singapore’s health functional food industry by developing multicultural and science-backed products.

The firm is an active participant of NutraIngredients-Asia’s ​events, including Mind and Mood APAC Interactive Broadcast Event on July 5, where Kumar spoke about​ the trend of reviving Asian botanicals, such as saffron and holy basil in supplements.

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