WATCH: Spice of life – Malaysian hot sauce brand Molli on how shelf-life extension and health demands can unite

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Malaysia hot sauce

Malaysian hot sauce brand Molli believes that food product preservation need not be mutually exclusive from consumer health concerns, despite widespread misunderstanding that all preservatives are automatically unhealthy.

According to Molli Co-Founder and Director Jorge Bernal, the discussion surrounding shelf-life and preservative usage is one of the most common challenges for companies manufacturing packaged food products like sauces, as there is widespread consumer misunderstanding that preservative addition is a ‘bad’ thing.

“Many health seekers today want foods with no preservatives, but in the industrial process, it is common to add preservatives to the products to extend shelf life and make it safer for consumption – this doesn’t mean that these are toxic or bad, it just covers consumer demands to have the product safer for a longer period of time,”​ Bernal told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“What is important here is for people to understand the difference [between natural preservatives and chemical additives] - For Molli, we use preservatives but these are not chemical additives. Our method of preservation is a very traditional and natural one, which is pickling with a brine of vinegar and salt with some lime juice.

“This, along with vacuum packaging in glass bottles, neutralises the growth of bacteria and prevents spoilage, so there is no need for chemical addition.

“Consumers [want sauces that] are more natural, yet are not compromising on the quality of ingredients and shelf life – so to remain competitive, sauce producers must offer high quality products with a longer shelf life while remain as cost-efficient as possible, and natural preservation] is a way to do this.”

Bernal comes from a chef and restaurant background, and has been working on the Molli sauces range for some 15 years, although he only began bottling and branding these about three years back.

He described the sauces as ‘Mexican-style sauces adjusted for the Asian palate’.

“The plan is to establish ourselves in Malaysia as a Malaysian brand first, then move to neighbouring countries like Thailand and Singapore little by little  - we already have had enquiries there from people interested to distribute, and from as far as Australia, Canada and UK too,”​ said Bernal.

There are currently five sauce flavours in Molli’s portfolio – not all of them hot, and Bernal stressed the importance of flavour variety to maintain consumer interest in Malaysia.

“We have Hot and Tasty, Tomato Salsa, the herbal Green Salsa, Extra Hot and Guacamolli – but the most popular ones at present are the avocado-based non-spicy Guacamolli, the spicy Hot and Tasty, and the mildly spicy Tomato Salsa, [which shows] that Malaysian consumers are on the lookout for variety,”​ he said.

“That said, the spice and heat is also important - Consumers in Malaysia always want hot sauces, not necessarily as spicy as possible, but something to complement their food, regardless of the cuisine, and the local market trend for hot sauces is definitely on the rise.”

Moving forward, he added that he already has several recipes for new sauces in the pipeline such as chipotle sauce, jalapeno sauce, and habanero sauce, but will wait for the right time to release these to the market, one by one.

Watch the video above to find out more.

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