Bak kwa NPD: Malaysia’s Oloiya banks on innovative flavours to capture younger consumers

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

The company will launch three fish floss products this month, its first foray into fish floss. ©Oloiya Facebook
The company will launch three fish floss products this month, its first foray into fish floss. ©Oloiya Facebook

Related tags Chinese new year Innovation Flavour jerky

Malaysian bak kwa company Oloiya (Chinese:我来也) is banking on flavour innovation to capture the younger market, as it bids to disrupt the century-old industry.

Bak kwa is a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product, usually made with preserved sliced or minced pork and marinated with sugar, salt, and spices. It has a taste profile, similar to jerky.

It is traditionally bought as gifts for families and friends in Asian countries during the annual Chinese New Year (CNY) festival.

Last year, Oloiya launched five new flavours of bak kwa, and the year before, another five flavours.

Some of its newer flavours include garlic, tomato, nasi lemak, curry, chilli sambal, tom yam and bak kut teh.

Oloiya’s owner Raymond Khue told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “We constantly invest into R&D, research the current trends, to develop new products for our customers​.

We also tried to offer a low-sugar series of bak kwa for customers who are worried about their sugar consumption​.”

This led to the firm creating a bak kwa product containing stevia, which cut sugar content by half.

Khue told us that its innovative ideas also came from collaboration with other brands, such as streetwear label Nerdunit, and brewery Guinness.

The collaboration with Nerdunit saw the launch of salted egg and mala-flavoured chicken bak kwa.

Oloiya also launched a beer-flavoured pork bak kwa with Guinness, which claims to have a malty note.

The company also sells chicken and pork floss, and will launch three fish floss products this month -  cod, salmon and tuna floss.

Oloiya is currently conducting R&D on a vegetarian bak kwa to tap on the growing plant-based trend.

Sales performance

About 95% of Oloiya’s sales come from its retail outlets located in Malaysia and Australia (one store), and 5% from its online store. 

Khue said this year’s CNY sales were down about 10 to 15% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production had slight hiccups too, as limited workforce was allowed in the office and factory following restrictions.

Although it was still a drop in overall sales, we are still very fortunate that our online sales helped to offset the drop in retail​,” he expressed.

Last year, he said online sales alone have grown 500% year-on-year. This could be partially attributed to the pandemic when people were unable to travel to get their bak kwa fix, so ordering online gives the convenience of home delivery.

Market potential

In Australia, where the company opened its first overseas retail store in 2019, sales have grown about 10 to 20% year-on-year.

Khue said the bak kwa ingredients are sourced locally in Australia, where Oloiya also operates a manufacturing facility.

For its business in Malaysia, ingredient sourcing and manufacturing are done locally.

Khue is eyeing the Singapore market next, “Singapore and Malaysia have a common theme in gifting bak kwa as gifts, especially during CNY​.”

Oloiya also has a small export operation to  Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam through distributors.

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