How Indonesia’s Green Rebel Foods plans to expand across the region and globe
Despite launching in the midst of a global pandemic, Indonesia's plant-based food brand Green Rebel Foods has seen strong growth across the country and is now planning launches in Vietnam, Thailand and Australia, before setting its sights on Europe. The Drum spoke to its founders to learn how it plans to maintain momentum.
Mascot in brand marketing for Green Rebel Foods
Plant-based meat is not a new concept for Indonesians. In fact, Indonesia has a rich food culture that comprises tempeh and tofu in their everyday diet. A survey on plant-based food consumption in Indonesia revealed around 73% of the respondents had consumed plant-based alternatives to animal-based food products.
So, launching a plant-based meat brand here seems like a no-brainer, however, it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that the founders behind Green Rebel Foods seized their moment.
Helga Angelina Tjahjadi and Max Mandias were happily running a plant-based café, Burgreens, when everything changed.
“When the pandemic hit, the restaurant business saw an 80% sales drop with that began our inception of Green Rebel brand to reach customers at home, turning our best sellers into frozen food and selling them online,” says Tjahjadi, cofounder & CEO of Burgreens and Green Rebel Foods.
The company raised a capital during the peak of COVID-19, built a pilot facility, and began producing Green Rebel Foods, a range of Asian-inspired plant-based products. Soon, they were contacted by Starbucks Indonesia to buy their products for a plant-based menu.
Currently, Burgreens has over eight outlets in Indonesia and Green Rebel products are distributed through their online site, E-commerce sites, across all Burgreens stores, and supermarkets. Green Rebel Foods are also available in five countries partnered with select restaurants like LoveHandle, Starbucks, Domino’s, Ikea, Pepperlunch and many others.
And the brand has big ambitions.
Having raised more than $7m in funding, Green Rebel Foods is focused on APAC expansion, with plans to launch in Vietnam and Thailand, expand into the Australian market, and eventually make their products available in the UK, and European Union countries.
“Our strategy with each country is to understand the most popular, comfort dishes of that country and make that with our plant-based meat. We launch our products in partnership with chefs and premier restaurants in that country for wider reach and acceptance,” says Raymond.
“Green Rebel has a global vision to become the number one preferred Asian-flavored plant-based meat brand known for our commitment to health and impact,” says Tjahjadi.
The growth comes despite recent reports that major brands were pulling out of the plant-based market as the cost-of-living crisis hits consumer spending.
The secret ingredient for success
Tjahjadi and Mandias had a jump start on the market, first launching Burgreens back in 2013. As one of the early players in this sector in Indonesia, they understood what consumers wanted in a brand and in the products.
As consumers have become increasingly aware of the impact of their actions on the environment, there has been a surge in demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products in Indonesia, and Burgreens has been on the journey with them.
The brand’s positioning is all around its eco-friendly farm-to-table concept creating food that is nutritious, convenient, kind of the planet – plus rich in protein and fibre with 0% in fat and cholesterol.
With an established offline identity and customer base, Green Rebel had an advantage when launching the consumer brand.
The company initially grew through word-of-mouth and social media marketing, with a focus on creating free content and engaging with customers. The brand also made organic partnerships with other brands and restaurants that believed in the products and its lifestyle. Press coverage played a significant role in their growth, with many publications featuring their unique concept. “The early entry into the market also helped attract key opinion leaders and celebrities looking for healthy food options,” adds Tjahjadi.
The company works closely with brand ambassadors and content creators to reach consumers through social media. The focus is on creating easy recipes to inspire consumers to try their products. They collaborate with like-minded media partners and participate in local events like vegan festivals to increase activation and engagement.
“The marketing budget allocated in Indonesia is about 10% of the sales, whereas for regional, since it's very early days, it’s 40% of sales. For Green Rebel Foods, we are currently at 10x sales compared to 2020 and for Burgreens, we are still in the process of stabilizing sales after pandemic,” says Tjahjadi.
Currently, the brand is focusing more on online marketing efforts outside of Indonesia since its consumers are more present online. “Offline marketing efforts are mainly limited to partnerships with restaurant and modern trade partners,” says Debra Raymond, regional brand manager, APAC at Green Rebel Foods. “However, in Indonesia, there are more offline events happening, so we provide more support for offline marketing efforts in this market.”
A digital brand with a global reach
Burgreens' brand positioning is focused on farm-to-table, healthy plant-based food sourced at least 50% locally and directly from farmers at fair trade prices, with a balanced and nutritionally rich menu developed by an in-house nutritionist.
“Our target audience for Burgreens is the upper-middle class in Indonesia and for this reason our restaurants are in malls and busy outlets. We mainly cater to flexitarians looking to swap animal meat for plant-based meat,” says Tjahjadi.
Burgreens first introduced Westen flavours at its restaurants but slowly realized Indonesians preference to Asian flavours with plant-based meat. The restaurant slowly pivoted to offering Asian-inspired dishes like Beefless Steak, Chick’n Katsu, Beefless Rendang and Shroom Balls.
“Green Rebel is undergoing a rebranding to introduce two mascots, Uncle Pen and Win Win, inspired by endangered animals from Indonesia that have similar diet preferences to our customers. The mascots are aimed at making the brand more approachable, friendly, and familiar to consumers. We hope that this rebranding will help communicate our message more effectively and make information on nutritional health benefits more accessible to consumers. The new branding includes the use of vibrant and edgy colors and language to appeal to customers,” says Raymond.