Meet-The-Buyer: Euniece Quek, Village Grocer Malaysia
Expos are a great way to meet buyers – and the Naturally Good Expo provides many opportunities to do so. We chat with Euniece Quek Jui Chien from Village Grocer Malaysia, in the second of our Q&A series. Euniece visited Naturally Good this year as an international buyer, organised by Export Connect and speaks about her experience at the show.
What is your career background, and what does your current role entail?
I was a part of the pioneer team for Ben’s Independent Grocer (Ben’s), handling gourmet, dairy and frozen, butchery and indent orders back then. I left the company after three years to join a coffee supplier, and returned to Ben’s once again about a year and a half ago. Prior to Ben’s, I worked with Austrade for four years, taking care of the food and beverage and construction sectors.
My current role at Village Grocer (Village) is to look after a team of four buyers. My team covers organic, baby food, confectionery and snacks, hot beverages, oriental products (from Japan and Korea) and some grains too. I’ve recently handed over Indent to the team but am still overseeing their processes and some of their product selection.
Can you give us an overview of Village Grocer?
Village started 12 years ago and as of March, Village and Ben’s together have twenty outlets. We are planning for another 4 -5 more by the end of this year. Village and Ben’s have both been strong with international imports. We hope to remain the leading grocer in importing in new products and deals that will attract more customers to the company. We strive to be the best in selection and to be competitive in selling price, all the while serving the best quality in products and produce. Many Malaysians have started to move toward mid-end grocers because they believe they can get better quality at an affordable price. I think we will continue to grow and be as competitive with other retailers in the market because of this.
How did you find the show during your visit?
While the Naturally Good Expo was on a smaller scale, I felt it was more targeted than other larger shows in Australia as there are many more small vendors who supply natural products. This helps the buyer keep informed with the latest trends in the market. I also think Export Connect did an excellent job because Export Connect’s inbound mission not only included attendance at Naturally Good, but also some B2B meetings, supermarket and special store visits. As buyers, it helped us to gain a lot more knowledge and information.
What types of products did you end up stocking?
We just recently shipped in 2 pallets of Human Bean Co.’s fava beans for our Australian fair. For other suppliers we are in discussions, and some of them we have on our consolidator’s list, and we’re ordering through them. There are about 5-10 brands which we will continue to explore. Eight brands will make it to our shelves.
What trends did you notice at Naturally Good? How do these trends compare to trends in your home regions?
Consumers in Malaysia are moving from hyperstores into premium stores like ours because they can find better quality, although pricing might be a little more expensive, but they do know what they’re getting and from which countries, rather than just China’s products or lower quality brands.
Consumers of health foods in Australia are also seeking higher quality, and we very much saw this at the Naturally Good Expo.
What are the trends that you are seeing in health, natural and organic products in your stores and in the Malaysian market more broadly?
Organic, health and wellness trends have been growing rapidly in Malaysia for 2–3 years. We’ve seen continuous growth over the last year and both brands (Ben’s and Village) have been running events and fairs every year to introduce more health brands to consumers. Many more Malaysians are aware of health issues and have been learning to eat more healthily. Almond milk, chia seeds, oats and coconut oils are some of the items that move quickly in our stores. We are also bringing in more healthy snacks to suit the market’s needs.
The International Buyers Program will be continuing in 2019, so make sure to get involved and keep up to date, and find your export opportunities with the Naturally Good Expo. Contact our team and book your stand today.