Malaysia has been slowly rolling out a range of juice products to tackle a shortage of fruit juice in the country, but the Ace Fruit juice brand is the first to take the leap.
The Malay-based brand, which has been in the pipeline for a year, launched its first fruit juice on Monday, bringing the total number of products available in the region to over 500.
“We have been working on fruit juice since December last year,” Ace said in a statement on Monday.
“It’s a huge challenge to find a viable solution to the current situation of fruit shortage in Malaysia, as well as to build a sustainable supply chain and the ability to supply consumers in a sustainable manner.”
Ace said it had been sourcing from local growers, including a few who have gone on to produce the fruit for export.
It said the fruit was made from the pulp and juice of apples and melons.
Malaysia is a country where apple production is limited due to the shortage of the fruit.
Ace said it wanted to help the country diversify its supply chain to make up for the gap.
“As a small company, we don’t have the scale to produce and market our own fruit juice,” Ace CEO Ahmad Ibrahim told Al Jazeera.
“But we’re determined to do our part in improving the quality and availability of our products, and we hope this helps to solve this long-standing problem.”
Growing upMalaysian people have a love affair with apples, so it is not surprising that the company has been making its first apples in the Malaysian city of Penang for years.
However, the city of Kelantan, which is known for its apple farms, has not been able to produce enough of the coveted fruit to satisfy the growing demand.
“Growing up in Penang, the local produce was so good,” said Ahmad, who has worked in the city for nearly a decade.
“In Kelantans case, they’ve been producing more fruit but not as much as we would like.
We’ve tried to be flexible with them, but it’s not always possible.”‘
It’s not going to happen overnight’The Malaysian government has tried to solve the shortage by encouraging small, local producers to grow fruit in order to help meet the growing consumer demand.
However the efforts have not been without their own challenges, as the country’s apple supply has been subject to price rises, and there have been some instances of corruption.
Malay officials are now trying to change the way they operate, which Ahmad said was “not going to be easy”.
“It takes time to develop and implement a policy that will address the root causes of the problem,” he said.
“There are a lot of things that we need to be mindful of as we try to get a solution to this issue.”‘
We’re trying to help’The Ace brand, for example, does not require a licence from the Malaysian government and is sold to retailers through their local outlets, and the company said that local growers would be able to continue to produce for the company.
“They’ve been supplying us with the fruit that we would have to pay for from the mainland, and that has not happened for years,” Ahmad said.
Ace has already had the support of the Malaysian National Fair Trade Commission (ANF), which is currently evaluating the fruit product for compliance with local food safety laws.
The company said it would also be launching an international brand of its juice at a later date.