Working full time and trying to maintain a solid foundation for health and fitness, Tushar Menon and his brother Nishant Menon have noticed that for consumers who don’t have time like them, there are no healthy and satisfying options in the Australian market. , high-protein ready meals.
Although there were ready meals aimed at weight loss, there was a gap in the market for active consumers who need more energy.
In 2013, My Muscle Chef was born with an extra incentive to start his own business.
The key elements the brothers wanted to pay attention to were time, on the one hand, and convenience, on the other. Also, at the time of setting up the company buying healthy food was expensive.
But co-founder and CEO of My Muscle Chef Tushar Menon said that before they were able to overcome these factors, there was a difficult learning curve.
“The biggest problem when we started was that we had no experience in the market; it was a huge study curve to understand the requirements of the food business, ”he said. “It was also the case that we were dealing with a perishable product, so it could not be produced in large quantities and stored in the surrounding area. Our dishes were frozen at the time, but still spoiling quickly, so understanding the transportation and storage and how to produce them in a safe environment was very important. ”
Nearly ten years later, achieving a good understanding of this logistics has benefited businesses. It was also broadcast when they dared to produce fresh food instead of frozen. Wanting to abandon the hermetic model of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), which uses a tray with a top seal that stores the product for 10-12 days, My Muscle Chef turned to vacuum packaging for leather to maintain quality, extend shelf life and help with logistics.
Vacuum leather packaging aims to prevent oxygen from the product, which stores it for 14 days and ensures that the fragrance will be as good on the date of use as in production.
After researching and searching for suppliers, they tested the packaging.
“The trials were successful and at first we were a little unsure because no one in Australia had done that for ready meals yet,” Menon said. “But we were confident that the positives outweighed everything else, and it was the best decision we’ve ever made.
“The quality of the product under vacuum baking is unmatched, and the food does not move, so in terms of presentation it was great, and in terms of taste and quality – incredible.”
Another important aspect of building a business was the formation of transparent relationships with partners and suppliers, especially when supplying their products to the cold chain. Menon says one of the biggest challenges was ensuring the right temperature was maintained from the time the product left the plant until it was received by customers. They are key to this connection with a reliable network of partners and suppliers.
“Supplying cold chain products is always difficult. Maintaining this temperature from start to finish is important for our products, ”he said. “We are very fortunate to have an excellent team with whom we have been working for some time who understand our requirements and our high standards in terms of customer service.
“We’ve built these relationships over a long period of time and they’re going smoothly. If you don’t understand this correctly, it’s a big problem because otherwise you’re chasing stocks across the country. Having clear visibility is the key, and it is our strength. Our delivery success is over 99 percent. ”
The ready-to-eat food manufacturer now distributes more than three million healthy and fresh meals, drinks and snacks every month in more than 4,500 suburbs across the country.
Menon largely attributes this success to a customer survey conducted in 2018 to better understand their target market and why customers chose to purchase their products. This has had a huge impact on the My Muscle Chef brand.
“The real turning point for us was the moment we spent some time thinking about what we were doing well and what our next steps were moving forward, and much of it was moving to a more data-driven approach and really understanding who our customers are there, ”Menon said.
“The study really impressed us – we always assumed that our target client was a gym visitor focused on performance, health and fitness. But we found that 60 percent of our customers ordered our products for convenience. ”
This valuable data gave the manufacturer a clear direction: instead of promoting My Muscle Chef as a fitness-focused brand, they expanded their appeal and product range to reflect “Every Body, Every Goal”.
Also, because of the stigma surrounding frozen food, once the business moved towards producing fresh ready meals and expanding the range of products, they were able to reach a wider audience and the brand’s growth began to grow rapidly.
Quality and automation
Although My Muscle Chef started out with a small kitchen at Potts Point in Sydney, the growth of the business allowed them to meet plans to build a new facility in Yennore, where they are now based. This facility will combine both production and distribution under one roof and will help meet ever-growing demand.
“It will be a custom-built site and will meet our current plans and growth expectations. Many of our problems will be solved by improving the efficiency and automation of our new facility, which is very interesting, ”Menon said.
Automating their processes will allow you to accurately track product quality from start to finish in every product, batch and ingredient.
“You need to know where the ingredients come from, what all the batches are, when they were made and when they were shipped, which gives us full visibility. We have taken this into account in the new website to ensure that we have the right technologies and processes to protect and improve quality, ”Menon said.
“Quality is the number one priority. By expanding the scale so quickly, it would have been easy to jeopardize quality, but the team has done a phenomenal job to make sure quality is number one. It doesn’t matter how good your marketing is – if your product is unusable, the customer won’t buy it. “
Quality is an attribute that extends to My Muscle Chef, including products. All of their fruits, vegetables and meats, including beef, chicken and fish, are shipped to Australia and delivered daily. And while automation is involved, Menon says their difference is how the dishes are cooked and presented – with care.
“One of the reviews we always get from customers is that it tastes like homemade food, and we love to hear that since our production is set up, we produce it as a large-scale restaurant,” he said. “It’s not a heavily processed product, and the food also looks very appetizing because of the way we treat the product and the ingredients we use.”
Since its launch in 2013, My Muscle Chef has managed to become a healthy, convenient and affordable option for consumers with limited time looking for fresh food as tasty as the one they could cook at home.
“We got a lot of feedback from customers who wanted to find My Muscle Chef products that they could pick up on the go,” Menon said. “Customers are now accepting that you can get healthy, quality ready-to-eat food at home, and I think the sector as a whole is doing a very good job of improving product perception.”
The focus of ready-made food manufacturers is now growing brand awareness, starting with the marketing campaign “Strong as it is”. The campaign, which focuses on educating Australian consumers because good nutrition is a key part of maintaining mental and emotional health as well as physical health, was launched in February and has received extremely positive reviews.
“I think this is the start of a new chapter of My Muscle Chef, and it will really help us reach more Australians and develop our brand,” Menon said. “The sky is the limit for our business. So far, we have achieved great things, thanks to products of fantastic quality. Now that we have a very focused marketing and branding strategy, we are excited to see how many more families we can engage. ”