April 23, 2020

Food for thought

Reinventing and adapting your business in response to particularly extraordinary circumstances is nothing short of commendable. One such business that is keeping relevant for their customers is Amino Mantra.

Combining their love for good wholesome food and their talents as a professional chef and a food scientist, makes for a perfect recipe, for husband and wife team Dr. Trang Duong-Kajaria and Pritesh Kajaria.

We caught up with Pritesh and Trang to check in on how they were going during the Level 4 lockdown.

Amino Mantra product range
A selection of delicious products from Amino Mantra's range.

Tell us about Amino Mantra

We make hand-crafted organic, allergen-free, plant based patties from vegetables, legumes, lentils and seeds. Our products contain essential amino acids, good dietary fibre and good fatty acids. They are easy to digest and super easy to cook.

After we had our daughter, we were determined to make a difference for ourselves and our next generation. We started practicing a zero-waste lifestyle and learned how a plant based diet can not only improve our health and wellbeing, but also leave a lighter footprint on our planet.

It was disappointing to discover that many plant based food options on the market were full of processed ingredients such as extracted gluten, texture modified proteins, processed protein isolates and derived gums. We began making our own. Using our combined skills in food science and culinary art, we started to produce delicious, nutritious food that made us feel fantastic.

As time went on, we met people who were looking to move to a plant based diet and recognised their struggle to find healthy and nutritionally complete options. Realising that good food can add value to people’s lives, we became determined to share our products with others. With this Amino Mantra was launched in October 2018.

Essential amino acids are building blocks of life and eating clean & healthy is a mantra for elevating our mind to a higher state of consciousness, so we decided on the name Amino Mantra.

What changes have you seen, under the Level 4 restrictions?   

Our products have proved popular given the interest in healthy eating and wellbeing during lockdown. People are conscious about the ingredients - quality and origin, nutritional value and sustainable packaging. As a result, we have seen a huge surge in our online sales. While our online sales are increasing, we lost a massive chunk of revenue through supermarkets and farmers markets’ sales.

Understandably people are opting to get their grocery shopping delivered to the door and supermarkets are coping with increasing demand for online shopping. We are working with our retail partners to mitigate the fluctuating demand.

Amino Mantra has expanded its product range, can you talk through how you’ve had to adapt your business?

At Amino Mantra we focus on gut health so it was great to team up with Zeli’s sauerkraut to design Gut Health Pack. This pack contains 2 x Amino Mantra Plant Patties packs (worth $28) with 2 x Zeli’s sauerkraut packs(worth $20) to give your gut a good dose of prebiotics and probiotics, all fora special price of $45.

Recently we launched Organic Wellness Fruit and Veggie Box and Organic Goodness Fruit Box for customers who are looking for locally sourced, quality organic fresh produce delivered to their door. These are suitable for families who are looking to add more fresh fruits & vegetables to their diet or a couple who are on vegan/vegetarian diets.

As a food operator what impact has the pandemic had on your industry?  

The FMCG industry is currently under pressure due to COVD-19 lockdown measures both here and globally. With this unpredictable situation, there is a cautious vibe amongst SMEs. Quite a few businesses had to pivot their business models to adapt to the changing demands. The positive news is that we are seeing a lot of collaboration between small brands to widen their audience-reach. We have noticed that people seem more understanding, empathetic towards each other as we are all in the same boat. COVID-19 has brought our best business practices in the FMCG industry.

On the other hand, there is a looming spectre of people losing their businesses, employees losing jobs and overall stress of uncertainty as we cannot foresee what is around the corner. Disruption in the global supply chain as well as currency fluctuations has seen increase in the prices of raw ingredients. All our supply chain partners have increased their prices from 5-10% in the last 7 days. We are currently absorbing these price increases as we know our customers are going through tough times and we want to help them by keeping our products affordable.

What tips can you share with us on how you're staying positive, fit and healthy?

While in lockdown, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the daily news reports around the world about COVID-19 infections, death toll, etc. Remember, it's easier to fall into a negativestate of mind than thinking positive thoughts. We limit watching news to 1 hour in the evening unless there is an emergency announcement.

With our 3 year old daughter at home during the day, Trang plans and organises her day, filling the time with activities while I'm working in the factory. In the evenings, we watch documentaries, go online to read about new trends in food and business, then bounce ideas around for new products, etc. We're also catching up on much needed sleep, learning meditation and enjoying spending quality time together. All things that we haven’t had the chance to do since starting the business.

Head to Amino Mantra's website to find out more about their delicious, beautifully crafted and packaged products, sign up to their newsletter and follow them on social media. At HGM we can say, hands down, their patties are so good!

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