BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

He’s spent 13 years eggs-plaining why pasteurised eggs matter to sell them to M’sians

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A couple of weeks ago, I came across a Malaysian business, Safe Food Corporation (Safe Food), claiming to be the first to produce and sell pasteurised eggs locally. It made me wonder, “Aren’t all eggs in grocery stores pasteurised already?” 

“Nope. Check their labels,” they replied. Upon a quick Google search, their statement holds true. Most grocery stores here actually sell sanitised eggs, not pasteurised ones. And that can make a whole lot of difference.

Cleaning it inside and out

Sanitised eggs are treated with UV lights to kill bacteria or viruses that may be present on the surface of egg shells. 

Pasteurised eggs, however, have been treated with precise and gentle heat over a long period of time to eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses like Salmonella or Bird Flu. Such pathogens can be present inside and outside the eggs, and tend to be culprits of food poisoning.

Safe Food’s team did clarify that there’s actually no harm in consuming unpasteurised eggs, because the heat from cooking is usually enough to kill off harmful organisms. That is, if they’re 100% cooked.

Eggs are often enjoyed only semi-cooked nowadays / Image Credit: Safe Food Corporation

In the culinary world today, eggs are no longer just fried or hard-boiled; many recipes often use raw and semi-cooked eggs. Think mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, no-baked cakes, half-boiled eggs served for kopitiam breakfasts, or those fancy, oozing egg dishes in cafes that you get for the ‘gram.

“These are examples that contain a certain percentage of rawness which carry a certain percentage of risk for food poisoning,” Maverick, founder of Safe Food told Vulcan Post.

In fact, Dato’ Dr. Norlizan Mohd Noor—the head of Malaysia’s Veterinary Health Department—shared that about 1% of 1 million eggs farmed in Malaysia may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. 

“If we consume half-cooked eggs and get diarrhoea or food poisoning, often we don’t know where it went wrong. Sometimes we blame the seafood or meat before we think of the semi-cooked eggs,” added Maverick.

And this mindset was what made it difficult for Safe Food to penetrate the Malaysian market when they brought the technology here.

Malaysians just didn’t see the point

Eggs are treated with gentle and precise heat during pasteurisation / Image Credit: Safe Food Corporation

Despite the benefits of pasteurised eggs, it wasn’t easy convincing the Malaysian market who isn’t willing to fork out extra on such a staple product.

“13 years ago when we launched Safegg into the market, it required a lot of expensive advertising and promotions to educate the market and gain their attention,” explained Maverick.

Dictionary Time: Safegg is Safe Food’s brand for their pasteurised eggs using a South Korean award-winning egg pasteurisation technology.

As they continued to educate the market and go about their business, Maverick also noticed a paradigm shift in Malaysian consumers. People started becoming more aware of their health and were willing to spend more on good quality food too.

“Over the 13 years, we have seen the increase in the reception of Malaysians towards pasteurised eggs,” Maverick confirmed. Safe Food’s public acceptance experienced a domino effect too, whereby once a consumer was pleased with the product, they’d usually return for more and recommend it to their own friends.

“Even in my childrens’ school chat groups, I saw parents recommending pasteurised eggs to other parents without knowing I’m the managing director of Safe Food Corporation,” he enthused. 

Of course, there is a segment of consumers who aren’t convinced. Maverick shared that the team still receives comments from people contending that they’ve been eating cheaper unpasteurised eggs and see no point in changing. 

But the team isn’t backing down, believing that with continuous education, more Malaysians will make the switch.

It’s just like milk, today consumers understand the importance of processed milk such as pasteurised milk, UHT milk, and they know that unprocessed fresh milk has a high risk of food poisoning if mishandled. This was achieved through years of educating the market.

Maverick Lee, Managing Director of Safe Food Corporation.

More brands to reach more customers

The pasteurisation technology Safe Food uses was brought over from Korea, where Maverick learnt about its importance during a trip to the country 14 years ago. Seeing the potential for such a market here, he opened Safe Food’s factory in 2008 and sold the processed eggs under their brand, Safegg. 

Packing it from factory line straight to customers / Image Credit: Safe Food Corporation

Today, Safe Food supplies to both B2B and B2C segments in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Some of their notable clients include local F&B brands like Go Noodle House, Paradise Dynasty, A&W, and Dunkin Donuts.

In the B2C segment, their pasteurised eggs can be found in grocery stores around the country such as Cold Storage, Isetan, Aeon, along with Jaya and Village Grocer. Safe Food has also branched out into the e-commerce scene during 2020’s MCO by offering deliveries for their eggs through their new brand, Eggshipper.

Additionally, the company also launched ready-to-eat pasteurised egg products like tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet), marinated eggs, etc. through another brand, Eggnovative.

As for their goals for the next 3 years, Maverick shared that the team is looking to export their products to more countries. They’re also hoping to build more retail awareness and focus on branding efforts to educate more customers on the benefits of pasteurised eggs.

  • You can learn more about Safe Food Corporation here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Maverick Lee, founder and managing director of Safe Food Corporation

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