The recent veganism trend has seen restaurants like La Juiceria Superfoods and Super Saigon collaborating with Beyond Meat, a Los Angeles company supplying plant-based meat substitutes, to offer “meatless” alternatives in their dishes.
There’s also KFC’s Zero Chicken Burger, which came out in early 2021. Though halal-certified, the protein alternative was neither vegan nor vegetarian as it was fried in the same oil as other chicken products anyway.
But all that aside, what these point to are that perhaps Malaysians have become more receptive to meatless options, whether they’re practicing vegans or simply enjoy meat-free meals and products once in a while.
Leveraging this trend is VickedGood, which has chosen to position itself as a manufacturer for vegan products, particularly in the baked goods line.
It ain’t their first rodeo
Founded by 3 serial entrepreneurs, Sita, Sheila, and Sonia have run their own business ventures independently prior to VickedGood.
Sita, a vegetarian herself, has been in the F&B industry for 7 years and has 2 cafes in Cameron Highlands under her name. Sheila made a career switch from IT to pick up a Cordon Bleu Patisserie course in early 2011, and opened a bakery in 2014. Meanwhile, Sonia was in the gifting industry supplying merchandise to local corporate companies.
They came together over lunch late last year for a sharing session, which eventually led to the ideation of VickedGood in November 2020. As Sita and Sheila have both served customers who’d requested vegan alternatives in their bakes, it gave them the confidence to operate this venture.
“There are, in fact, many places offering vegan products, but there didn’t seem to be a single source for the various vegan products out there. Anything vegan you look for, you have to find a different source, and, for us, we wanted to make it easier for people to find what they want, under one roof,” Sheila elaborated.
“We cannot do everything, but we can do quite a lot in our facility to meet the growing demand for vegan food.”
Hence, VickedGood officially got its production facility’s wheels turning in March 2021.
Incorporating alternative ingredients
Creating vegan baked goods requires a number of alternative ingredients to make the product absolutely plant-based. While fats like butter can be easily substituted with coconut oil or lard, the team pointed out that many technical issues plague their process in vegan baking.
“For example, fat and moisture content are different in plant-based food sources. Hence, the straight substitution of ingredients to “veganise” a particular recipe does not always work. It requires repeated R&D based on food science principles,” they told Vulcan Post.
Whenever possible, the team tries to make everything from scratch, even their ingredient substitutes. “For example, many vegan recipes require yoghurt as an ingredient, which we have formulated and also sell at grocery stores like Qra,” the founders shared.
VickedGood’s website currently lacks proper descriptions about its products and still displays dummy text on certain pages. This is something the team would have to fix as they grow, because those who stumble upon them may be turned off from making purchases when they cannot find better information on the products.
At the moment, the only way you can find the full menu is on the brand’s Facebook page, which lists a range of vegan cakes, cookies, granolas, spreads, and various types of bread.
Another cafe wouldn’t cut it
The startup’s business model focuses on selling its products to the B2B segment, being a supplier to cafes, grocery stores, and the like. But they’re not shutting out the consumer market just yet.
“What we have done is a little bit of a hybrid model—focus on B2B to reach a larger client base, with a small element of B2C to service the customers who live in the vicinity and are looking for tasty, healthy, reduced (or no) sugar offerings for themselves, their families, and friends,” said Sheila.
It’s an approach that should benefit the team, as wholesaling to businesses provides a steadier stream of income for VickedGood since they’d be fulfilling larger orders at a time, as opposed to a customer’s smaller orders.
Sonia also pointed out that vegan restaurants have been mushrooming over the years, to their advantage. A few that I’ve patronised myself include Sala and Veggielicious Thai, both located in PJ. She added, “We realised there was a ‘hole’ in the B2B market. VickedGood decided it was time to take up that challenge, and invested in the necessary to make it happen!”
Just 5 months into the venture, VickedGood has stocked its vegan yoghurts in supermarket Qra, and supplies nut butter to social enterprise The Spread Project. Their breads are used in PB Health’s meal packages, which are prepared by our former interviewee, Chef Dave of D’Vegan Academy, while their granola is sold in a couple of pharmacies.
The founders are currently in discussion with more speciality food stores and pharmacies to partner with. Soon, they hope to expand their supply to East Malaysia, Vietnam, the Maldives, and Singapore.
In the Malaysian market at least, veganism hasn’t grown big enough yet that there’s a household brand for such products. This gives VickedGood a chance to scale and establish themselves as such a player.
Vegans may be their main target market for now, but if their R&D can produce vegan food with flavours that appeal to non-vegans, this will open the door to their total addressable market (TAM).
Featured Image Credit: VickedGood