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Tempehtations

Tempehtations

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The Idea

This project embarks to meet existing demands and further expand into the marketplace for non-animal protein products in the ACT. More specifically, we will deliver a product that is nutritious, full of flavour, versatile, and convenient to prepare. It is also fully vegan, gluten-free, and can be made fully halal. The product in question is tempeh, a fermented soybean product native to Indonesia but consumed widely in Southeast Asia and, increasingly, in the western world.

Tempeh is already available in markets and restaurants in Canberra. However, while there is a supply of frozen, vacuum-packed tempeh, there is currently a lack of fresh, authentic, locally produced alternatives. This is the niche that we are targeting. Our mission is to promote a healthy, green, and cruelty-free lifestyle with the added benefit of convenience and comfort for those who associate tempeh with home but are currently unable to buy or afford the existing products. We will address these pains by producing and providing fresh, authentic craft tempeh to meet existing demand. We also strive to make tempeh more widely known. Through engagement with customers, this enterprise will add to the diversity of Canberra’s food and snack scene and address growing demands for cuisines not widely available in Canberra or Australia more broadly.

The Market

We have identified two major customer segments with potentially different jobs, pains, and gains.

Our primary customers are the large Indonesian community residing in Canberra: students and academics; skilled workers; professionals; and families. Tempeh is ubiquitous and popular in Indonesia, and our customers crave for authentic tempeh in Canberra. Although fresh tempeh is available in other major Australian cities, in Canberra the current selection of vacuum-packed and usually frozen tempeh available in food shops and supermarkets does not fully satisfy these customers’ demands. In contrast, our product is designed to fulfil the validated desire for fresh, authentic, and house-made tempeh. There is also plenty of room for expansion among the growing, >80,000-strong Indonesian-born population residing in Australia (2014 census). The demand for Indonesian products is already there (ABC News, 13 Sep 2017).

The secondary customer segment includes those with dietary preferences for non-animal based and/or gluten-free sources of protein. Customer validation among students indicates that those with a vegetarian/vegan dietary preference struggle to be aware of, locate, or afford products made of non-animal protein. Their awareness of tempeh and its availability varies, and those who have tried tempeh are usually left craving for more. The desire for cruelty-free, wholesome, and organic food probably also aligns with the needs of this customer segment, which presumably is young, highly educated, predominantly female, and international in character. Our tempeh can address most or all of these pains as it is free of animal products or derivatives, requires little processing, can be produced locally from Australian-sourced materials, and potentially at a lower cost than competing alternatives available at present. Member of the Food Co-op (c. 300 members) and the ACT tertiary institutions (>30,000 students), as well as the growing number of people with interest in vegetarian or vegan foods (Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Jun 2016; SBS News, 1 Apr 2018), means that this is a growing niche that we can target.

References

2014 census data, https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/about/reports-publications/research-statistics/statistics/live-in-australia/country-profiles/indonesia, accessed 23 August 2018, 21.30

ABC News, 13 September 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-12/indonesian-community-selling-food-through-facebook/8895288, accessed 23 August 2018 22.37

ACT tertiary student population, after https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_National_University and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Canberra, accessed 23 August, 21.50

Sydney Morning Herald, 4 June 2016, https://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/australia-is-the-thirdfastest-growing-vegan-market-in-the-world-20160601-gp972u.html, accessed 23 August 2018, 21.53

SBS News, 1 April 2018, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/vegan-trend-takes-hold-in-australia, accessed 23 August 2018, 21.53


The Competition

Our direct competitors fall into the following categories: local and overseas tempeh producers; retailers (supermarkets, grocery stores, Asian food stores and farmers’ markets); restaurants (if we make dishes using tempeh). We may also face indirect price competition from producers and sellers of animal and non-animal protein comestibles.

Currently, the above-mentioned direct competitors are providing vacuum-packed, mass-produced, frozen tempeh to consumers in Canberra. In contrast, we will produce fresh, house-made craft tempeh. We believe that our product will better meet consumers’ needs for authentic, fresh, and local tempeh, and we will strive to develop packaging and logistics to ensure that demand is met without sacrificing freshness. For those concerned with nutrition and variety, we will be able to provide a product that is higher in fibre and protein than existing alternatives such as tofu. By virtue of being located in Canberra, we can also expand our innovation to creating new varieties and ways of cooking and presenting tempeh and to create direct connections with our customers, something that the existing direct competitors lack are not providing.

The Vision

Our primary target is the ACT, within which we have identified several potential customer segments. Our initial target is the community of people of Indonesian (population 1300) or Malaysian (population 2400) citizenship residing in the ACT (Australian Bureau of Statistic 2016). Another segment includes people of other citizenships with ties to these regions. Demand for fresh, authentic tempeh is validated among these segments. Additionally, we can expand to meet the growing demand for vegan food among the wider public identified in the major urban areas of Australia (SBS News 1 April 2011; The Sydney Morning Herald 4 June 2016). The highly educated and professional demographic of Canberra promises good expansion opportunities. Another opportunity for expansion includes other major urban areas in Australia, especially NSW and VIC, although there we will face competition from existing providers of fresh tempeh.

Fresh, authentic tempeh is our primary product. However, tempeh is a versatile food that can be adapted in many ways. We may experiment by introducing variations to the basic product. We can also increase the range of tempeh and other meat-free products of Indonesian/Malaysian origin and repurpose waste products from the manufacturing process. We will strive to cement our place as a certified and reliable producer to meet the demands for Indonesian produce currently unavailable in Australia except on the informal market (ABC News 13 Sep 2017).


References

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) Census of Population and Housing <http://www.abs.gov.au/census>, accessed 2 Sep 2018 12.55 pm

SBS News (1 April 2018) Vegan trend takes hold in Australia , accessed 2 Sep 2018 12.13 pm

The Sydney Morning Herald (4 June 2016) Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world , accessed 2 Sep 2018 12.16 pm

ABC News (13 Sept 2017) Australia's Indonesian community illegally selling food through Facebook, accessed 2 Sep 2018 12.33 pm

Mentor Pitch

Food binds people and the planet together. For many, food is also closely associated with the feeling of home. However, for many among the overseas population in Australia, authentic food from home is often hard to come by. This is the case for the large Indonesian and Malaysian communities in the ACT. One product with particular demand is fresh tempeh -- a fully vegan, halal, and wholesome food made of fermented soybeans. However, the frozen varieties of tempeh that are currently available in the markets in the ACT fail to meet the demand for fresh, authentic food from home. In the ACT alone, there are over 1300 people of Indonesian and over 2400 people of Malaysian citizenship (2011 Census). In addition, the market for vegan, wholesome, and organic foods is growing all over Australia. We have validated the demand for fresh, authentic tempeh among people of Southeast Asian descent and in a number of grocery shops in the Canberra region. Our team is well positioned to answer the demand for fresh, authentic craft tempeh: team member Myra is an experienced tempeh producer and has a good understanding of the voracious demand for fresh tempeh among the Indonesian population in the ACT. In addition, our team is dedicated to promoting diversity of food culture and to meeting the demand and interest for green, delicious, wholesome diets. In order to help us to start and grow our business, we are looking for a mentor with a green mindset and an understanding of food industry, with expertise in how to scale up production and logistics and how to navigate the relevant legislation.

The Customer Experience

At present, customers become aware of our product through their social networks and face-to-face contact. Information is shared privately through messaging apps. Customers get the product on their hands by picking it up from the location. Then they come back for more.

To extend our reach and to formalise our operations, we will need to improve our visibility, accessibility, delivery, and engagement. We will set up a website and social media profiles with stories, information, and contact details to make our product more visible and accessible. The system should also enable us to manage supply to meet demand. For delivery, there are several options: pick-up from the place of manufacture/storage; direct delivery using delivery companies; indirect delivery via retailers. To increase engagement and predictability of delivery, we may set up a subscription system with loyalty benefits. We also endeavour to use our online platforms to provide means for people to share their ideas to build up community and awareness of the product and how to prepare it for your personal use.

The Team

We have a range of skills, passions, and expertise that can help us to build a successful venture. Myra has both the skill and experience in making and marketing tempeh to one of our customer segments; Tuofu has expertise in strategic management; Rebecca understands the Canberra food scene and has a strong interest in health products, gut health, and natural foods; Tuukka is passionate about the future of food and especially vegan diets and sustainable food production.


One important assets of this venture is the large Indonesian community residing in Canberra who crave for authentic tempeh. Additionally, we expect there to be plenty of room for expansion among the growing, >80,000-strong Indonesian-born population residing in Australia (2014 census). The demand for Indonesian products is already there (ABC News, 13 Sep 2017). The growing vegan market is another promising customer segment. In addition, in our team we have an understanding of the product, of customer segments, and possess research skills that can help us in our venture.



Key Resources

We welcome people with diverse talents as our collaborators. First, we need people with large-scale manufacturing experience. As the business grows, we might face the problem that our production capacity cannot meet the growing demand from consumers. We need someone who has skills to scale up the production. For example, he or she knows how to figure out the maximum scale we can reach before the average cost of production begins to increase. We want to make sure that we make full use of the economies of scale and maintain profitably. Second, we need someone who is experienced in equipment purchasing. Our purchasing manager is expected to find the manufacturing facility of good quality and low cost. Third, we need a nutritionist. We expect our nutritionist to provide scientific evidence that our product contains nutrition such as vitamin B12. In other words, we want the nutrition specification on our package accurate. Fourth, we welcome those with experience of or expertise in the legislative aspects of food industry. If you are interested in helping our business venture, please feel free to email us.



Funding Sought

Others Total Estimation $20,000

Expenditure ($)

Raw materials $3-4/kg

Legal                                       1000

Poster, banner, etc                   500

Kitchen Equipment                   2000    

Smallwares                                1000

Insurance                                    500

Marketing tools                            5000                       

Web Development/ Social Media set-up 3000

Consultant                                    2000

Research and Development         3000

Others                                        2000


Our Partners

As the primary targets of our venture are the Indonesians and Malaysians, we will partner with the two embassies because they are the main bodies who organize community events for the peoples. We can then join and sell our products in their functions. In the long run, we will also strive to become one of the embassies' daily food suppliers to ensure our basic sale (they eat tempeh a lot!). This will help our brand too (as the ''embassies' choice''). Of course, Asian shops and restaurants will be our targets as well. In fact, some Asian shops have asked Myra to supply tempeh. For the broader, vegan market, we plan to partner with the vegan restaurants like Aulac. We will also try to explore other ways to cook tempeh (like turn them to tempeh burger, or tempeh popcorn) and promote them to ordinary restaurants. They (including cinema) will become our potential partners too. 

Our Revenue Streams

Our customers fall into two main segments: those already familiar with tempeh, and those who aren't. For those who are familiar with tempeh, we provide an authentic, fresh tempeh experience that some of them can associate with their places of origin. For those unfamiliar, we are offering a new kind of a food experience. Regardless of their background, all our customers can also benefit from the nutritional and green values of tempeh and the versatility of the product.

We can charge both one-off transactions and develop a subscription-based system where people pay a fixed fee for a fixed amount of tempeh on a recurring basis. The payment model and costing will depend largely on who our customers are. Those familiar with tempeh probably are more likely to wish to enjoy it continuously and will value a competitive price and reliable delivery (i.e. subscription). Those less familiar may be willing to try once-off payments. Perhaps they would be willing to pay extra if the tempeh was processed or otherwise made easy to use?