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Did you know that mankind has been practising fermentation for over 10,000 years?

In the days before refrigerators and artificial preservatives, fermentation was the best way to make food last through a dreaded cold winter or an unexpected drought. 

In this day and age, however, things are a little different. Today, we ferment to add unexpected, exciting flavours and textures to food and to bring out new taste experiences that we wouldn’t find in regular fresh produce.

One such person is entrepreneur Junhao Tan, whose interest and passion for fermentation have taken him farther than most in the funky journey.

From Aussie vibes to Malaysian roots

His formal foray into the world of food began during his studies in Food Technology in Australia. Junhao’s education not only deepened his understanding of the science behind food but also ignited a desire to merge traditional flavours with innovative techniques. 

Upon returning to Malaysia, Junhao founded Brew By Root in Johor Bahru, a culinary haven that’s all about fermentation goodness.

Image Credit: Brew By Root

When he initially decided to venture into the fermented food market it was about bringing that healthy Aussie vibe back to Malaysia. After soaking up the scene down under—where they’re all about wholesome, less processed foods—Junhao got fired up to spread the same mindset back home. 

“I see fermented foods as an accessible and appealing option for anyone looking to make positive changes to their diet,” he told Vulcan Post. 

Well, over the years, Junhao has taken things up a notch. What started as Brew by Root in 2018 has expanded into Root Food Fermentory.

Initially focusing primarily on kombucha, the decision to expand reflects a broader approach to include a variety of fermented food products under one umbrella. This expansion stems from a desire to expand creativity and cater to a wider audience with varied product offerings.

It also showcases their versatility in product development and aligns with the growing interest and demand for diverse, wholesome food options among consumers.

Brewing diversity in fermented foods

Root Food Fermentory recognises a distinct gap in the Malaysian market for a comprehensive range of healthy fermented foods beyond the usual offerings like kombucha, kimchi, and sourdough.

Image Credit: Brew By Root

Their focus on providing a diverse selection, including sauerkraut, tempeh, and pickles (which are currently in the pipeline for launch) sets them apart from competitors who often specialise in only one type of fermented product.

But Junhao believes that what truly differentiates the brand is its commitment to using natural ingredients without any artificial flavourings or preservatives, ensuring the highest quality products for its customers.

“Our dedication to purity ensures the highest quality products and aligns with our mission to encourage real food consumption and promote genuine, wholesome nutrition,” he explained.

Root Food Fermentory’s customer-centric approach extends to its subscription service, and by catering to both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) channels, the brand reaches a wider audience.

Image Credit: Brew By Root

With these subscriptions, customers get easy access to their quality products at a reasonable price. Plus, it’s a win-win: Not only does it keep people coming back for more, but it also nudges them to make fermented foods a regular part of their diet.

Root Food Fermentory also hosts workshops focused on kombucha making, offering hands-on training to participants. 

Image Credit: Brew By Root

These workshops empower individuals with the knowledge and skills to craft their own kombucha and explore new flavours.

Hopes to spread the goodness

Getting the brand to where it is today wasn’t smooth sailing, though.

In his attempt to grow the brand, Junhao thought of introducing kombucha vending machines. However, the glass bottles of their kombucha were ill-suited for the machines, and led to a temporary halt in the project.

But Junhao isn’t about to give up on this ambition, and is instead exploring alternative packaging solutions. They’ve made “exciting progress” in this, he added.

“These developments have reignited our vision of making healthy kombucha readily available to consumers, even in high-traffic locations where vending machines are the preferred mode of purchase,” he said.

Besides, as much as Junhao loves diving headfirst into the world of fermented foods, he’s also learnt the hard way that burning the midnight oil 24/7 as an entrepreneur isn’t sustainable.

Image Credit: Brew By Root

He said that finding that balance has been the key to keeping the Root Food Fermentory train on track.

Looking ahead, Root Food Fermentory aspires to solidify their presence in key markets within Malaysia and beyond, build strong relationships with partners and customers, and increase brand awareness through various initiatives.

“Our vision is to make kombucha and fermented foods a staple in consumers’ daily diets across Malaysia and potentially overseas,” shared the founder.

  • Learn more about Brew By Root here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.

Featured Image Credit: Brew By Root

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)