KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — We have all been conditioned to believe that brown rice is better for us than white rice. More fibre, more nutrition, right?
But the taste leaves something to be desired, at least for some of us.
So why not drink it?
That’s the premise of the Original Brown Rice Protein Isolate by Soluxe Nutrition. It’s basically protein powder, the sort gym-goers chug at the end of their workouts, albeit non-dairy, vegan, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) and free of gluten, sugar and soy.
Sounds like a giant shaker of wellness, already.
Wellness is a huge passion of Soluxe Nutrition co-founder and CEO, Leong Chee Foong. The avowed fitness enthusiast is a certified advanced scuba diver and has participated in triathlons and marathons; he has even conquered Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014.
Leong matches this love of outdoor physical activity with both science (University of Warwick, UK) and business (University of Mannheim, Germany) degrees, so it was only a matter of time before he embarked in a career that combined his interests and his education.
Yet the catalyst was less of a sudden entrepreneurial epiphany and more of a simple problem he faced and wanted to solve. It’s yet another case of a startup founder scratching his own itch and starting a new business.
Leong explains, "I was suffering from constant skin breakouts, so I started researching whey protein alternatives. I noticed there was a gap in Malaysia’s plant nutrition market.”
While Soluxe Nutrition is known today for their organic plant-based supplements, the company started with just one product — the Original Pea Protein Isolate — when it was incorporated in 2014.
Why the need for plant proteins — and why all the fuss about their provenance?
Leong explains, "In the world we are living now, additives are added into various foods for the purpose of cost cutting, flavouring and preserving them. Studies have shown that consuming food with too many additives can cause various adverse reactions to the human body.”
As such, Leong designed Soluxe Nutrition’s products specifically for an audience seeking all-natural and unadulterated sources of nutritional supplements. He adds, "We take pride in the quality — our pea protein is sourced from the world’s leading manufacturer in Europe, which adheres to strict independent testing and is European Union Agriculture Association compliant.”
Cynics and naysayers might wonder if it’s truly important for their products to be "certified non-GMO internationally” (as Soluxe Nutrition’s are). Could it be just an extra layer of marketing and branding?
Leong counters, "Fun food manufacturing fact: In Malaysia’s food labelling regulations, "Natural Vanilla” equates to "natural identical”, which is vanilla flavour that is synthetically produced by constructing vanilla taste using chemicals. As there is a worldwide shortage of vanilla, it is very expensive and not commercially viable for companies to include real, natural vanilla into their ingredient list.”
Another way Soluxe Nutrition purportedly stands out in the marketplace is their standard serving size of 25 grams, regardless of the flavour. Leong says, "Most brands tend to market their protein content instead of serving size. Serving sizes... will tell what is the true nutrient content in every serving and how much you consume are actually fillers, sweeteners and flavourings.”
With the success of their flagship Original Pea Protein Isolate, Soluxe Nutrition added other natural flavours such as Chocolate Deluxe, Coffee & Cacao, Premium Matcha and other seasonal options to their product line.
Then came the product line expansion last year: their Non-GMO Original Soy Protein Isolate for customers looking for a plant-based protein with a complete amino-acid profile; then a range of Raw Organic Whole Foods including Organic Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Goji Berries and Rolled Oats.
The aforementioned Non-GMO Original Brown Rice Protein was launched in January 2022; the ingredients are fully imported from North America.
All this seems like smooth, steady growth but what is more remarkable is what Leong shares next: "The company has been operating on a positive cash flow ever since its incorporation. Fully funded by strategic investors, the brand has been able to grow organically via selected retail distribution channels and has a strong online presence.”
Given the latter part of their existence has seen the global pandemic and the ensuing market uncertainty, Soluxe Nutrition has more than survived; it has thrived in a chaotic climate, particularly with health concerns at the top of mind for consumers.
Leong recalls, "Population-level interest in exercise in April 2020 was at an all-time high! Even though the numbers declined after a few weeks, it remained at a higher-level than before the lockdown. Our business experienced a windfall gain from this fitness trend because people tend to have protein shakes after their workout to aid muscle recovery.”
To fully capitalise on such sea change isn’t easy, since the same opportunities were available for other health and wellness brands. For Leong, the physical and mental health of his employees remains a priority — and the key to the brand’s success.
He reasons, "My employees are the most valuable asset of the company. Each of them possess a unique set of knowledge, experience and abilities. With a happy and healthy workforce, the team will be able to consistently deliver a positive customer experience at every stage of the customer’s journey.”
And perhaps the most rewarding part of that journey for the customer is knowing what they put into their bodies — their treasured temples after a hard workout — are what Leong sums up as their "nothing-artificial, no-nonsense ingredients.”
Learn more about Soluxe Nutrition at soluxeshop.com.