Playing it cool: Start-up Sthrive taps influencers and local flavours to introduce freeze-dried meals in Malaysia
The firm is thought to be Malaysia’s first freeze-dried meal company producing healthy ready-to-eat foods comprising meats and noodles that claim to retain the flavour, texture and nutrition better than dehydrated products.
While freeze drying technology is far from novel, the firm says it saw a gap in the freeze-dried savoury meal segment, and launched chicken, beef and kelp noodle products in 2021 to cater to hikers, fitness enthusiasts, health-conscious individuals and working professionals.
“Because freeze dried meals are new in the market, not many people know about this so we need to guide and educate our audience on how it’s made, the nutritional content compared to dehydration method, and how to consume,” said Joesin Yeo, co-founder at Sthrive, who added it decided to work with influencers including fitness coach Jordan Yeoh, model Sonia Naidu, and doctor Ka Ho Koh.
Freeze-dry vs dehydration
One the foods are cooked, they are frozen before being put in a vacuum to remove moisture and keep the cell structures remain intact. It is then dried at 40°C and packaged.
The entire process can take up to 60 hours depending on the moisture content.
Yeo said this process can lock in 97% of nutrients, and the final texture of the product can achieve 70 to 80% similarity to the original foods. Sthrive’s products have a shelf life of one year.
Dehydration is typically a cheaper and faster method to remove moisture, but it can also degrade the nutrients content.
The firm offers SKUs in various sizes, from single-pack (60g), bulk (240g) and also a subscription model where users are sent meals monthly.
It operates online, through its e-commerce store, as well as platforms such as Shopee and Lazada. It is exploring expanding into cafes and restaurants in Malaysia.
The firm has also received interest from US and Indonesia.
Marketed for convenience, users only need to add hot water. The firm has focused on creating Asian flavours to attract local consumers, such as Thai style chicken - its best-seller.