Diet food firms help Filipinos get their sexy back
After all the holiday parties come the promises to shed those extra pounds— which, to those in the diet food production and delivery business, translates to an expected peak in sales.
That doesn’t mean that the number of customers dips significantly post-New-Year’s-resolutions season.
In fact, two diet food companies—The Sexy Chef and Delicious Diet—all notice the same thing: Filipinos are now more conscious about what they eat, and are therefore making better dining choices, no matter what time of year.
Singer Rachel Alejandro and her sister, chef Barni Alejandro-Rennebeck, started their service by offering meals based on the South Beach Diet.
“It was all the rage. Rachel and I are always up-to-date on all the latest diets. She brought home the South Beach Diet book for me, and that’s how it started; I was, like, her personal chef,” says Barni.
The Alejandros decided to set up kiosks in selected branches of a gym where they sold their products for four years.
Thanks to their parents’ investment, The Sexy Chef’s diet programs—codeveloped with fitness nutritionist Nadine Tengco—and delivery service were officially born in 2009.
“South Beach is a low-carb diet, and we realized not everyone wants that,” says Barni.
“At any given time, we try to stick to around six diet plans,” adds Rachel. We constantly revise our roster of diet plans to keep up with the latest on weight-loss science. We still listen pretty much to Nadine, because she knows what works. Basically the trend has become toward eating all-natural, preservative-free food.”
The diet programs are only half, though, of The Sexy Chef’s business; they also deliver daily lunch and dinner meals to office workers all over Metro Manila, and even as far as Antipolo and Cavite. What sets their products apart, say the sisters, are four key nutritional components: calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, otherwise known as “fat-fighting nutrients.”
“[Our meals] have to have those four fat-fighting nutrients. It’s not just calorie-controlled, because there are certain things that prevent the body from hanging on to fat. That’s what makes us different: there’s really weight-loss science involved. That’s what makes our diet programs work. People really lose weight because of it,” says Barni.
A younger industry player, Delicious Diet, chooses to focus on another aspect of diet food—the taste. The company’s founder, 31-year-old Jeff Sy, says he decided to try his hand at the business after working for six months in Australia where he got to taste quality food.
“When I came back, I had to reacquaint myself with the food here. I was eating at a canteen and it was the usual oily, salty food, and I thought, there has to be something better,” says Sy. “I checked online, and there were other services already existing. I looked at what could be improved, and it turns out taste could still be improved. Of course, taste is subjective, but at least from our perspective, it’s not something sub-par, and it’s something we would also eat.”
A former corporate employee, Sy decided to cater mainly to office workers in Makati and Taguig Cities.
In a day, Delicious Diet delivers to around 300 people.
Because of this, variety is also important to Delicious Diet’s customers, says Sy.
Sy also sticks to high-quality ingredients—nothing processed or repackaged off-the-shelf products, a common practice for Delicious Diet and The Sexy Chef. Of course, people will need to pay a premium for such products; i.e., these meals don’t come cheap.
To ward off competition, the Alejandros invested in a new marketing strategy, something which relied heavily on digital technology, particularly Instagram and a mobile-friendly website which makes it easier for people to order on-the-go.
“That really increased our sales,” says Barni.
For Sy, business has remained steady over the years, thanks to the loyal client base both have developed.
The two companies’ owners aren’t possessive of their clients either. For them, their businesses are all about promoting healthy eating, regardless of who’s selling the food.
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