KINABATANGAN, Dec 30 — Who doesn’t like to eat bread?
Just like any other food, bread is meant to be enjoyed. Seriously, what better way to spend time with family than enjoying slices of classic white bread or bun filled with various rich fillings, served with coffee or tea for breakfast or afternoon tea.
Regardless of the method of selling, bread and buns are sure to receive an encouraging response.
Seeing the prospects prompted a rural entrepreneur and baker, Hadiza Lahi, 40, from Kampung Lot M here, to take the opportunity to explore the wider potential of the classic white bread and buns filled with rich fillings such as black bean paste and pandan custard, starting in March last year when the cake business she set up three years ago was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Bernama, Hadiza said she wants to expand the MC Bakery brand which now produces classic white bread and buns filled with rich black bean and pandan custard with attractive packaging and is optimistic that the product will be able to spread its wings nationwide through the Buy Malaysian Products Campaign (KBBM).
“KBBM has really helped me a lot to grow my bread business, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the country in March 2020. Honestly, I did not think it would be a source of income that would allow me to hire three employees later, to meet the demand for the products.
“After my cake business experienced 80 per cent drop in demand at the beginning of the pandemic, I switched to making bread to ensure business sustainability, besides, there were many requests from some parties through MC Bakery’s official Facebook page to provide bread supplies to frontline workers here,” she said.
Although the business was conducted online following the Movement Control Order imposed at the time, Hadiza said that she received a very high demand for bread and buns, not only from the surrounding residents but also from the Peninsula, as well as Singapore and Brunei.
Fully aware of consumers’ purchasing power and that the brand will gain a wider market through the internet, Hadiza took a step forward by upgrading the quality of packaging including registering the patents and brands of the bread products, and at the same time, increasing production to meet customer demand.
She added that her efforts were assisted by the Sabah Department of Industrial Development and Research (DiDR); SIRIM; Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA); Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA); and the Kinabatangan Department of Agriculture.
“I think product packaging is very important, especially for online businesses as buyers will look at the packaging design and labelling. Beautiful packaging will attract people to buy the product.
“I personally saw the impact of packaging and labelling when sales of bread products produced by MC Bakery jumped 90 per cent compared with only around 30 per cent before.
“Therefore, I am confident that the products from bread makers like us, rural entrepreneurs, can compete with other brands and may even expand beyond Sabah because now everything is at your fingertips, the purchasing power on the internet is very high,” said Hadiza, who is currently in the midst of setting up a bakery in Kinabatangan.
She also expressed hope that the government will be able to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure because currently the rural internet network, especially in Kinabatangan, is still inefficient to catalyse the development of the digital economy in the area.
She added that the business of rural entrepreneurs is able to soar through KBBM, with the support of the local community who certainly choose local products. However, it is also crucial to have a good internet network as online business is now becoming a trend as consumers find it an easy and practical way of shopping.
KBBM was launched to increase consumer confidence in local products in helping the country recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and thus revive the economy.