Alpha Catering, a Dhaka-based catering services company, announced early this week that it has added a new product line: healthy consumer foods. There is a growing demand for healthy food products in the market as consumer awareness regarding what they eat grows. However, while there are now a number of small players who are pronouncedly offering safe and healthy food products such as Khaas Food and Neofarmers, the market has space for both range, options, and competitive players. Alpha aims to play around these lines. The company states that it aims to bring a product line that would meet both health benefits combined with good taste.
Alpha’s current product line includes peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter, super seeds peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, protein powder and almond powder. In the near future, the company aims to release other healthy food products like energy bars, trail mixes, almond milk, protein cookies, granola bars, cottage cheese etc. The company says it aims “to deliver items made from carefully picked ingredients with tremendous health benefits, prepared hygienically and most importantly, delicious to eat.” Customers can currently order Alpha consumer foods for home and office delivery and the company plans to make the products available in several retail stores as well as eCommerce platforms in the next few weeks.
Founded in 2016, Alpha Catering started off as a small catering services provider based in Dhaka. The company quickly gained attention from the market with quality service and innovation and has since expanded to other verticals. This new move into packaged consumer food indicates the company’s long-term ambition to go up in the food value chain.
1/ Catering is one of the long lists of businesses that took a hit amid the coronavirus pandemic. As events and public gatherings came to a halt, companies like Alpha Catering have been hit with a significant fall in demand and business. While the events are coming back as Bangladesh slowly comes out of the coronavirus pandemic, the demands for catering services are unlikely to rebound in full force anytime soon. Alpha Catering has made a number of moves in the past few months to tackle the challenges including delivering foods to offices among others. This latest move, adding healthy consumer food to its product line, is the first major long-term initiative from the company to tackle both the impact of the pandemic as well as find new opportunities for scale and growth.
2/ From A New Boutique Safe Food Trend Sees Traction In Dhaka: “Consumer distrust in processed food products from large corporations to unknown sellers has swelled over the past few years. A relentless torrent of news of contamination and harmful chemicals in all types of food products starting from milk to seasonal fruits to every edible item imaginable has helped build a mass awareness around safe food in Bangladesh.
This development and failure on part of large food companies to address consumer concerns regarding safe food are giving way to a strong safe food trend in Dhaka. A small but growing group of boutique food brands are offering a meaningful, albeit relatively pricey, alternative to consumers in Dhaka – safe food. Most of these companies offer limited choice, between 40 to 70 product categories, but promise quality and safety. A segment of consumers is flocking to these companies for their edible needs. Several companies we have spoken to tell FS that the growth has been promising and the opportunity in the vertical is potentially huge.”
Alpha Catering is the latest brand to join the tribe. As I mentioned earlier, there is a growing demand for safe food in Bangladesh. But the market remains limited in scale, primarily because of the price - price often varies between 15% to 45% compared to regular mass-produced products. This limits the market for these products. There is an apparent chicken egg dynamic. For most middle-class price-sensitive consumers, price limits access to the category, thus potential scale for these companies. Contrary, without scale offering a competitive price remains a tall order. That’s one challenge. Second, the number of players entering this space has been growing steadily over the last few years. It appears the segment is growing competitive by the day and the players who can combine both quality and price will break out of the pack. In the next decade, expect some of these companies to become dominant players in Dhaka’s food scene.