Malaysia’s A1 reformulates instant noodle to suit western taste buds, aid expansion in UK and Europe

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

A1 has reformulated one of its instant noodle products to cater to the taste preferences of consumers in the UK. ©A1 A.K. KOH
A1 has reformulated one of its instant noodle products to cater to the taste preferences of consumers in the UK. ©A1 A.K. KOH

Related tags Malaysia Instant noodles Convenience foods Localisation

Malaysia-based food manufacturer A1 has reformulated and repackaged one of its hero products to appeal to the taste preferences of consumers in the UK, as the firm looks to broaden its reach in Europe.

A family business since 1986, A1 A.K. KOH today exports to more than 20 countries, including Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and UK.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-Asia​ at the recent FHA-Food & Beverage 2024 trade show, Koh Lian Jie, CEO of A1, said that Singapore is the firm’s biggest export market, followed by Vietnam and China.

In China alone, the company is working with three distributors.

The firm sought to find distributors to extend its overseas footprint through its participation in FHA, as well as promote the A1 brand to more Singapore retailers and supermarkets.

“For a long time, we only exported to Singapore and Vietnam. Because of COVID, we have been trying to export to all over the world. We just entered the UK last year, and we hope to export to more European countries from there.

“Just like how consumers in Singapore and Malaysia have similar taste buds, the European consumers probably have the same preferences. So, if our products do well in the UK, we want to seize opportunities in Europe.”

Koh also shared that the firm is leveraging one of its “star products”, Curry Laksa instant noodle, to tackle the western markets. 

In fact, the product was specially reformulated and repackaged to cater to consumers in the UK and Canada.

“The soup in the original version is clear and not that thick, whereas the soup in the UK and Canada version is thick and creamy, which is moreacceptable by consumers in those regions. It also serves to spark their memories of how Malaysian laksa tastes like, for people who have tried it before.

“The response in the UK has been quite good. Once our Curry Laksa opens up opportunities in the market, we will then introduce other types of products with Malaysian flavours there.”

Product diversification

Over the years, A1 has expanded its portfolio from spices to pastes and sauces, instant noodles, canned abalone, ready-to-drink bird’s nest, and instant coffee.

At FHA, the company showcased its latest product, coffee candy, which was launched in Malaysia last year and is currently pending approval for sales in Singapore.

The coffee candy comes in three flavours, namely latte, cappuccino and mocha.

“There are a lot of things we can do from coffee. We wanted to go for something that people can eat everyday —easy to consume and carry around. The candy is made without sugar. We use aspartame instead, so it tastes less sweet and the coffee flavour is very strong.

“We found it timely to release this product, as it fits into the less-sugar trend in Singapore, especially since the introduction of Nutri-Grade. Even in Malaysia, people are looking for sugar-free options, so this product is suitable for local consumers as well.”

The firm aims to launch the coffee candy in Singapore by the second half of this year.

“We introduce two or three new products each year, so as to control the quality of our products, rather than just keep pushing out new stuff. We want to sell good-quality products that are long-lasting in the market. It’s not our approach to sell a product and if sales is bad, we just give up on it,” ​Koh added.

Healthier Product Innovation will be a key topic of focus at Growth Asia Summit 2024 – join us in Singapore to learn about market opportunities and glean insights from major industry experts. Find out more here

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