Entrepreneur

Egg-scuse Me, What The Heck Is Astaxanthin & Why Are These M'sians Selling Eggs That Have It?

Author’s Blurb: Whenever I’m at the grocery store buying eggs, I have to admit I usually go for the cheapest ones that don’t look too bad. I don’t buy them based on their grade, size, or nutritional content. After all, once they get cooked, they look and taste the same to my amateur eyes and unrefined palate.

I can’t help but think how disappointing my attitude towards eggs might be to the founders behind Fornix Foodstuffs.

Led by Paul Lim, they’re a group of investors with a vision of investing in nutritional, healthy food because they personally care about what they consume.

They established Fornix Foodstuffs for the research and distribution of food, supplements and cosmetic products enriched with a specific pigment from algae.

One of their products is OnZen Eggs, an idea that was sparked when they came across the nutritional benefits of the algae pigment that could be passed on from hens to their eggs.

That pigment is known as astaxanthin.

From Ocean To… Egg?

Astaxanthin is a reddish pigment that occurs naturally in certain algae and causes the pink or red colour in various seafood like salmon, trout, lobster, and shrimp.

This is astaxanthin / Image Credit: OnZen Eggs

One thing that astaxanthin is most known for is being an antioxidant, and it’s been said to help all kinds of ailments from high cholesterol to rheumatoid arthritis.

On OnZen Eggs’ website, they list out the properties of astaxanthin, with a few being:

  • 6000x stronger than Vitamin C,
  • 550x stronger than Vitamin E,
  • 550x stronger than Green Tea,
  • 17x more potent than Grape Seed Extract, etc.

“We were excited when we were exposed to astaxanthin as a very strong antioxidant as it is uncommon in Malaysia to directly consume algae,” Paul told Vulcan Post.

“So, we came up with the idea to introduce astaxanthin to the community through a common food: eggs.”

How they deliver its benefits to consumers is by giving their chickens feed enhanced with the pigment.

After a process of trial and error, they finally had eggs to test, and they were delighted to find that their eggs had a higher nutritional value than commercial ones on the market.

In total, they’ve invested at least RM2 million into producing OnZen Eggs.

“To be very honest, it is a revolutionary idea, and like new products, there are investments required,” Paul justified.

Papers To Back Their Word Up

On OnZen Eggs’ website, they have a copy of their certificate of analysis for the nutritional value of their eggs as proof that they’re not just using marketing buzzwords.

The content of their eggs is tested by Vet Food Agro Diagnostics (M) Sdn Bhd (VFAD) based on stringent standards provided by Japan.

Image Credit: OnZen Eggs

They also source their pigment specifically from Japan because of the consistent quality and the reliability of the astaxanthin content.

Thanks to the specific formula of their chicken feed to astaxanthin ratio, their eggs carry a nutritional value that outweighs the cost of the egg at approximately US$0.25 (about RM1.07), Paul shared.

At RM20 for a pack of 20 eggs (RM1/egg) and RM27 for a pack of 30 (RM0.90/egg), it’s definitely pricier than what I’m used to, as my egg purchases usually never go over RM5 for a pack of 10 (RM0.50/egg).

A richly coloured yolk / Image Credit: OnZen Eggs

Aside from having a reddish yolk, OnZen Eggs’ eggs are also supposed to have a creamier and smoother texture, and it’s recommended that you try their eggs soft boiled without soy sauce or pepper to truly taste them.

No Need To Be A Health Nut To Eat Better

I’ve personally become quite desensitised to products marketed as having X and Y health benefits as I’m not patient and consistent enough with them to see results, so I wondered how OnZen Eggs would acquire customers who might be like me.

“Nutritional effect is long-term, it is not something which shows immediate results,” Paul agreed, but added:

One good thing for us is we are marketing eggs. If you are taking eggs, why not take eggs that are produced from a healthy chicken?

Paul Lim, OnZen Eggs

I found it hard to argue with that simplified logic. While I still may not be swayed, there are certainly more concerned customers out there willing to pay a higher price to switch to healthier eggs.

For example, Paul shared that sales have been steady over the months, with OnZen Eggs producing an average of 200,000-300,000 eggs per month.

Their eggs can be found in physical stores like Jaya Grocer, BIG, Village Grocer, Oliver Gourmet, and more, as well as bought online here.

Apparently, 2 other brands have begun producing astaxanthin filled eggs too since OnZen Eggs began, but rather than seeing them as competition, Paul’s delighted that they’re sharing a vision.

Their efforts are focused in Klang Valley for now, but they’re aiming to expand to other states with the final goal in mind being recreating OnZen Eggs’ vision with overseas egg farmers.

Bottom Line: I supposed if I ate eggs more consistently, I would be willing to shell (no pun intended) out a little more cash to invest in quality ones. It’d be more worth it as I could maybe finally see some health benefits, but it’d still take quite a bit to truly convince me that it’s truly worth it, and that’s just my perspective on it. To each their own!

  • You can read more on other Malaysian startups we’ve written about here.

Featured Image Credit: OnZen Eggs

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