PrimaBaguz eyes ASEAN, Middle East markets

Premium Halal meat-based product manufacturer, PrimaBaguz Sdn Bhd is now ready to expand beyond Malaysia, following a major expansion in its operations over the past 4 years since its acquisition by government-linked private equity firm Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas).
PrimaBaguz supplies a wide range of beef, chicken and other Halal meat products, including sausages, cold cuts, pizza toppings, patties and soups, to many fast-food brands, as well as hotels and restaurants. Its clients include KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, Burger King as well as other mid- to higher-range brands such as Starbucks, Dome, TGI Fridays and Chili's Malaysia.
The company, which runs its operations from a single facility in Bangi, Selangor, works with its clients to customise products according to their specifications.
PrimaBaguz Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chin Lee Foon said the company had built a strong foothold in Malaysia over the years and is now looking to further expand in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Presently, exports contributed about 28% to its revenue, and the company hopes to increase this to 32% in 2019.
“Our vision is really to expand beyond Malaysia to capture the fast-growing Halal food market,” she said. In Asia, the company is looking at expanding its foothold in Singapore, which is currently one of its biggest export markets contributing 10% to its total exports. Other export markets include Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. Meanwhile, its exports to the Middle East currently make up less than 2% of total exports and this provides room for further growth.
Another big muslim market, Indonesia, is however not identified as the right market for the company, as according to Chin, the consumers there do not lean much towards Halal western food, with the exception of a smaller population in developed cities like Jakarta. “We don't just look at the size of the population but also the food preference of the market, the trend of the hotels, restaurants and quick-serve restaurants. So, we take into account which cities and which countries have a taste for the products we supply,” said Chin.
For countries like the Philippines and Vietnam, she pointed out that there are many pizza chains which fit the product profile of PrimaBaguz, considering that it is already catering to pizza chains in Malaysia.
The major challenge in catering to its clients is in ensuring consistent supply of quality meat, as the company sources its Halal meat from other countries like Australia, Brazil and China as Malaysia does not have the capacity to supply the quantity of meat PrimaBaguz requires.
In 2013, Ekuinas bought over PrimaBaguz for RM40 million (US$9.8 million) from CIMB Private Equity and Prima Agri-Products Sdn Bhd, and injected about RM20 million (US$4.88 million) into the company to boost its capacity. Since then, the company had witnessed a major restructuring in its operations. “Ekuinas came up with a value creation plan, helping us to scale up our plant, renovate our facility and improve and enhance our operational skill set in terms of machine capabilities, which have also allowed us to come up with new products along the way,” she said.
PrimaBaguz’ expanded facility will be able to support the company's growth including exports over the next 2 to 3 years as presently, it is only utilising about 55% to 60% of its current capacity.