KUALA LUMPUR: The biscuit industry is lucrative but there are many challenges to overcome.
It is not only financially rewarding but also intriguing in terms of competition, variety, excitement and consumer experience, said industry heavyweight Julie's s director Sai Tzy Horng.
According to Sai, the broader food and beverage industry has entered a very interesting phase with many new players.
There is fierce competition out there, but Julie's embraces competition because new entrants "always make it more interesting for the entire market."
"It is very competitive out there but it is healthy competition, and we are expanding rapidly overseas. We've been in the business for nearly 40 years and we make great products that sell themselves."
He told Business Times that despite the fact that there are many competitors, there are opportunities in the market.
"We are always looking at collaborations as a way to grow the business, such as the one we have with ZUS Coffee, as it makes us feel like we are part of a very colourful ecosystem," he said.
Rising cost of raw materials such as wheat flour and milk is the industry's biggest challenge.
"The last few years have really been just inflation, and I believe this is affecting all industry players. This is an industry and a global situation in which prices have skyrocketed. All we have to do now is manage the cost," he said.
Julie's is sold in more than 80 countries throughout Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It was founded by Su Chin Hock in Melaka in 1984.
Julie's Peanut Butter Sandwich Biscuits and Julie's Love Letters Wafer Rolls are among its key products.
Despite rising costs, Julie's is not planning to raise its prices for now.
"It's difficult to say whether we will raise product prices for the time being. I'm hoping it will simmer down. The last time we raised prices was at the end of the pandemic in 2022, but it was minimal," Sai said.
Julie's plans are to dive deeper into various existing markets and search for new markets to grow the business.
Since 1985, Julie's has been steadfast in meeting the demands of the rapidly expanding domestic and export markets.
The company has about 12 per cent market share in terms of brand share in the biscuit industry in Malaysia, and it is growing stronger internationally.
Currently, the company's revenue is split evenly between Malaysia and abroad.
"We are not the top player in Malaysia, but we intend to get there. At the same time, we've gone very far abroad. While there is some traction there, one of the most important things we want to do is focus," he said.
Julie's has captured markets in over 80 countries, with its strongholds being in Singapore, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, Mauritius and Africa.
"For the last 10 years, one of Julie's growth strategies was going overseas because we felt that there was just a lot of potential abroad. We wanted to try it out, and the products actually work very well.
"We are really quite international today. We are also in the United States, but in a much smaller volume. We will always be open to new markets.
"We won't close the doors to opportunities. But of course, going to any market requires consideration and requires cost as well. We will be prudent," he said.
Despite the company's international expansion, there are no plans to establish factories in other countries.
Julie's products are manufactured and exported from its Melaka factories.