Food Forest Farm in Malaysia chooses to focus on the top segment

‘Silky Pink is a premium brand with international appeal’

The Malaysian family-owned company Food Forest Farm has a clear vision; it is focused on sustainable production methods and grows flavoursome, distinctive, top-quality produce. That is why Silky Pink, Rijk Zwaan’s pink cocktail tomato, not only graces the grower’s delivery trucks but also the shelves of high-end retailers in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, explains Khoo Peng Keat, Director of Food Forest Farm.

Green circle

“We love nature and we love growing vegetables. Back in 2009, when we started our company close to Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands, no one in our family had an agricultural background. We built up our business slowly but surely. We work in line with the ‘green circle’ which means that we opt for good-quality and safe food without the use of pesticides.”

Complete supply chain

“We have a 40-hectare integrated township development on which we have seven hectares of agricultural land. We have a team of over 100 people and produce 20 crops – with tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce being the most important ones – in high tunnels, partly in soil and partly in cocopeat or using the nutrient film technique (NFT). We do more than just the production; we also pack and distribute our products ourselves so that we can offer full traceability. We serve the high-end segment, so it’s only logical that we choose to grow the very best varieties.”

Appearance, flavour and quality

“I first saw Silky Pink during an open day that Rijk Zwaan had invited us to in the Netherlands. I was immediately impressed by its appearance, flavour and quality. My first thought was, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could grow such an innovative product as that in Malaysia,’ because we always try to set ourselves apart as a supplier. For example, we – unlike many other growers – sell vine-ripened tomatoes that taste just like they did in the good old days. Why does Silky Pink appeal to me so much? There is strong demand for pink tomatoes in Asia, including among Japanese consumers. So the Silky Pink truss cocktail tomato is an interesting product, especially because it can be used for both snacking and cooking, enabling us to expand in the vine tomato segment.”

Top end of the market

“And things are going very well. Our customers are retailers at the top end of the market, such as Ben’s Independent Grocer (BIG) and ISETAN. The growing middle class in Malaysia is driving the ongoing growth of these retailers. They really love Silky Pink. The brand offers them something distinctive for their fresh produce category. In Malaysia, most premiums are import products. Silky Pink is unique because it has international appeal yet is grown locally under controlled conditions – that’s a very strong combination. We will be further increasing our focus on unique premium products in the future.”

The same values

“We have a special partnership with Rijk Zwaan. Business ethics are very important to us. We have the same fundamental values as Rijk Zwaan. ‘Sharing a healthy future’ expresses precisely what we stand for. Rijk Zwaan embarks on a journey with every customer, whether you’re a big player or a small one. I like their honesty in sharing information… not to influence me, but to allow me to choose for myself how to further develop my company. Without Rijk Zwaan, my view of the horticultural sector and my production and product knowledge would be much more limited. Thanks to these strong ties, we’ve been a 100% Rijk Zwaan variety company right from the start. The Rijk Zwaan staff have been sharing support and ideas with us for ten years now. Our partnership also means that their chain manager and I meet with retailers together, in complete openness. I hope that we will continue to take our partnership to the next level.”

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