Possibly popping up during the pandemic to make packing and deliveries of F&B items easier, I’m starting to notice many other products being packaged in boxes, from ice cream to cookies.
These are not your usual cans for tuna or soft drinks. Although they share the same tabbed aluminum lid, the container is often a clear plastic to display the products inside.
The wrapper makes for great photos, especially if the food inside is layered or positioned correctly.
It’s something CAN Malaysia (Les CAN) tries to do, but with cakes. Run by two college students in their twenties, Kristen and Shino, their chiffon cakes in boxes have garnered tens of thousands, sometimes even millions of views on ICT Tac.
Go off the beaten track
The idea for the company came around Shino’s birthday last year. At her celebration, her fridge was full of cakes packed in large boxes that proved difficult to store and move to and from the fridge.
This made Kristen wonder if there was an easier way around this problem.
He found videos online of cakes being packed in tins, a sight more common in Japan and often sold in vending machines. Inspired by this, Kristen, who had no baking experience, embraced the idea while adding her own twist by adding jelly and mash to the dessert.
Aside from the CANs Strawberry Chiffon Cake, all flavors were created by Kristen himself, including Kiwi, Pineapple, Yellow Peach, and Pink Lychee, with more on the way. of R&D. Each box is sold at RM15 and delivered to the Klang Valley.
The procedure for placing the cakes in the tall wrapper is similar to assembling Legos, Kristen told Vulcan Post. “We put all the ingredients (chiffon cake, cream, fruit and jelly) layer by layer in the boxes,” he explained.
It takes them about two hours to make a single full batch, including prep and cooking. On average, the duo can produce up to 30 cans per day, or 850 cans per month.
Innovation requires investment
CANs claims to be the first in Malaysia to offer canned cakes. But being a trailblazer didn’t come without obstacles.
On the one hand, many customers were hesitant to try their cakes because the product was so new and unfamiliar, according to the team.
Additionally, finding suppliers for the clear plastic packaging and the machines capable of sealing it was another difficulty they faced.
There was, however, a small silver lining. Being a home-based business, CANs have had few problems financially. They have seeded RM8,000 in capital, with funds to be saved if they ever choose to place and sell their products in vending machines.
On the reception side, things seem to be improving for the CAN.
It seems that posting the content of the cakes on TikTok has caught Kristen and Shino’s attention enough from customers sending in requests. One of their 10-second videos has now amassed around two million views, while their other videos are getting an average of 10,000-20,000 views.
“We saw a 50% increase in sales after many of our TikTok videos went viral,” Kristen shared.
So far, customers who have purchased CANs’ products have been consistent with Kristen and Shino’s initial projections. As Kristen revealed, “Our customer demographics are women between the ages of 17 and 25. Customers buy the cake because it’s aesthetic, unique, flavorful, convenient, and suitable for gift giving.”
It’s not just aesthetics
In addition to making the product aesthetically pleasing, canned cakes have the advantage of taking up little space in the refrigerator and being portable. This means they can be eaten anywhere without the need for plates, which also makes them easier (and pandemic-friendly) to hand out during parties.
According to Kristen, the sealed packaging of the cakes also has preservative functions, where their shelf life (if unopened) can be up to five days.
However, the use of plastic packaging can contribute to a lot of waste that can be harmful to the environment.
Customers these days are also more environmentally conscious about the products they buy, so I wondered if The CANs is making efforts to reduce its environmental impact.
“We are aware of the use of single-use plastic for cans. We reduce the use of plastic by using recycled paper packaging [for deliveries],” they shared.
Some might argue that the cans themselves are a major contributor to waste, so perhaps the team could consider creating educational content around ideas for how customers can reuse plastic cans, such as trinket containers or even tiny flower pots.
Changing the packaging of their products is also a viable option, although using more eco-friendly packaging like glass containers may just increase the cost of their cakes. Once the business scales, this could be a potential upgrade that appeals to a wider audience.
Ultimately, if CAN’s end goal is to put their products in vending machines to provide customers with convenient access to their dessert, then the packaging currently in use appears to be the best option at this time. It would also be beneficial when the startup decides to ship to other states, following growing customer demand.
- Find out more about AFCON Malaysia here.
- Learn more about Malaysian F&B companies here.