Working out is hard on its own, but following up with a healthy meal is another challenge. Homecooked meals take time, effort, and energy that we just sometimes don’t have while juggling our professional and personal lives. So, we turn to ready-made meals.
Personally, I could make do with anything from a convenience store, but as a frequent gym-goer, Syazwan Ghazali found it difficult to find affordable yet healthy ready-to-eat meals.
Thus, he decided to create a solution for himself that he is now sharing with others through his brand, FITMEAL.
Designing his dream
Syazwan started off with RM5K from his personal savings in order to make FITMEAL a reality.
As a professional graphic designer with 11 years of experience, he utilised his skills in the branding and advertising of the startup. His experience with e-commerce was also helpful.
“The only challenge in e-commerce for him is that he is not a programmer nor a software engineer,” said Annie Shaf, co-founder of FITMEAL. “But, with the internet and YouTube, he learned his way.”
The team began to create recipes, then partnered with a manufacturer for R&D. It took them a few months to create something with the proper taste and texture without a loss in nutrition.
“FITMEAL is 100% free from food preservatives, artificial flavour, and it’s low in salt, making it suitable for individuals who are very active and on a strict diet,” Annie added.
The brand currently carries three flavours—American BBQ, Lemon Pepper, and Black Pepper. Each pack, which contains two 130g pouches, is RM25 without discounts.
Annie said there will be more Asian flavours in the future, but it seems like the three offered now is a solid start.
To date, the co-founders shared that they’ve sold 5,000 packs of the healthy meals, but the company is not profitable just yet as it’s been reinvesting the money into R&D and marketing.
Measuring up to competitors
However, FITMEAL believes that what sets its product apart is the fact that it’s totally ready to eat. By using retort technology, customers can consume FITMEAL directly out of the pouch without reheating them. The pouches don’t even need to be stored in the fridge.
Every sealed pouch that has been retorted will be quarantined for seven days before distribution to ensure the packaging pouch is not contaminated. Each pack then lasts for one year from the date of production.
Did you know: Retorting is a technique to sterilise food after it is sealed in a container by steam or other intensive heating methods, allowing the sealed product to be more commercially stable.
In terms of pricing, FITMEAL doesn’t exactly make for the most affordable snacks, though. 1kg of chicken breast goes for less than RM20 at supermarkets, after all. Paying RM25 for 260g of chicken breast definitely seems like a luxury in comparison, but they are cooked, seasoned, and ready to eat out of the pouch after all.
TearNEat implements a system whereby customers have to order at least seven packs of the 100g chicken breasts at once. The seven-pack is RM70 excluding the shipping fee of RM20.
However, TearNEat’s pouches should not be kept frozen for more than three months. Thus, those who want the most convenience out of a healthy meal might consider FITMEAL’s RM25 price tag per pack to be worth it.
Championing the lifestyle
With a tagline of “Prep for Champ” and packaging depicting fit and athletic individuals, FITMEAL certainly seems to be targeting a health-conscious demographic.
In fact, FITMEAL quite literally has a champ on their side. Their ambassador is Luqman Zaheruddin, who won Mr Malaysia 2019, a bodybuilding competition. The company has also reached out to various fitness influencers in Malaysia to solidify their marketing.
However, outside of athletes, FITMEAL hopes to target the health and wellness industry at large and wants to organise events such as Zumba concerts to promote a healthy lifestyle.
This should come naturally for the team, though, as Syazwan, the “fitness-prone” founder, has organised various fitness programs in the past including Merdeka Zumba 2019.
Moving forward, the company also hopes to collaborate with big names in the gym industry or any other startup brands that share FITMEAL’s values. They aim to retail in pharmacies in the future too.
“We [have] not yet succeeded since we just started [in] early 2021, but we are very much consistent in our plans,” Annie shared. Moving forward, FITMEAL is looking to feature other proteins in their products such as red meat and fish.
Though the startup is also targeting the health-conscious crowd, there’s potential for their products to appeal to doomsday preppers and campers/outdoor enthusiasts if marketed the right way.
Featured Image Credit: FITMEAL