Over its seventy-two years of operation, Akij has become a household name in Bangladesh, employing more than 35,000 people and boasting a plethora of brands that range from Akij Agro, Akij Cement, Akij Plastics etc.
With Akij's financial prowess in managing conglomerates of this magnitude, it was only a matter of time before it entered the food and beverages market in late 2006 with Akij Food and Beverages Limited.
They would soon capture the beverage market with local alternatives like Mojo and even compete with international competitors like Coca-Cola and Pepsico. Given their success in this market, Akij later decided to launch Akij Bakers Ltd in 2020.
"Before launching Mojo we went through a rigorous tasting procedure to assess if our drinks could compete with the best beverages. After a year of research, we finally distributed Mojo and it was a huge success among all age groups. For the cookies and cakes of Akij Baker, we adopted the same process," said Md Shafiqul Islam Tushar, Chief Marketing Officer of Akij Bakers Ltd.
On 12 November, Akij Bakers launched the latest addition to its growing range of products: Funtastic cakes. According to Shafiqul, Funtastic cakes have been launched for people who prefer affordability but also want to satisfy their hunger with tasty bites.
There are several options under the Funtastic Cake brand name: Funtastic plain cupcake (which comes in three flavours – vanilla, milky butter and chocolate), Funtastic cream-filled cupcake ( available in vanilla and chocolate) and Funtastic pound cake (which also comes in vanilla and chocolate flavours). Funtastic biscuits are also available in the market.
Before the launch of Funtastic Cakes, Akij Bakers already had a range of products that could be found in local stores such as Bakeman's Biscuits or Fast Bread and Bun.
Akij Bakers Ltd started its journey on 16 December 2020 and despite being launched during the pandemic, it was well received.
Shafiqul said, "During the pandemic, people all over the country became more aware of food hygiene and quality. It enhanced their trust in packed dry products. As a result, Akij Bakery's items were able to become consumer favourites. We are successfully supplying our bakery items in 64 districts."
With an enormous Tk1200 crore investment in the baking project, Akij Bakers began its operations with Bakeman's cookies and aimed to revolutionise the ready-to-eat market with its quality and delicious baked items.
"There are many reasons why our products are different from others, starting from our world-class factory equipped with machines from Europe and the use of robots in our production line. This efficiency helped produce the highest variety of cake with the highest capacity and avoided any sort of hand touch maintained hygiene," said Shafiqul.
Akij Bakers claims to have captured the second-highest market share in terms of sales of cake since it unofficially released its cakes at the beginning of this year.
Akij also managed to export 5.5 tons of bakery items a few weeks ago in Malaysia and is continuously working to spread the 'Funtastic' taste of their baking items.
"We use imported vegetable fat instead of Dalda, which is typically used in this kind of food. This is another thing that sets us apart," said Shafiqul.
Shafiqul also added that they used A+ grade flour, sugar, high-quality flavour, milk powder and skimmed milk in the production of the cakes. To get a better idea, The Business Standard spoke to Engr Shaumitra Kumar Mondol, General Manager at Akij's fully automated factory in Shilmun, Tongi.
Shaumitra said, "We can't stress enough that no factory in this country uses such gold-standard raw materials. The raw materials are tested twice in the importing country and then the custom clearance lab tests them again. When it arrives in our country we test it in our modern laboratory to ensure we serve the best quality, ticking all the standards of perfect baking item raw materials."
Because of automation, their factory consists of only 100 workers. And as the production procedure is speedy and the factory has 2000 kW powered solar panels, it is quite an energy-efficient project.
"Installing solar panels helped to decrease our variable cost and it supports us for almost eight hours a day. Currently, our factory can produce 100 to 120 tons of bakery foods every day and we made sure the automation process does not hamper food quality in any way."
He finally added that the idea that handmade items can taste better is wrong. Process equipment and process parameters are the keys to getting the perfect product. Moreover, using handmade products is not always preferable if one has health concerns.
Fun and Fantastic
As the name of the product claims, the cakes of this product line are fun and fantastic given its super affordable price range. We tasted three types of Funtastic Cakes. Every cake was different in taste and look.
Their pound cake comes in two flavours: vanilla and chocolate. They are a bit smaller than usual plain cakes but they come at a very reasonable price.
At Tk30, you get six pieces of vanilla goodness. The texture was spongy and it had just the right amount of sweetness. It is the perfect tea-time snack to enjoy with your family. The chocolate pound cake was similarly tasty, but it felt sweeter because of the chocolate.
After the simple delight, we tried their cream-filled cupcakes which come in two flavours: vanilla and chocolate.
The cupcakes have a very creamy centre and it costs only Tk10. It felt like a perfect tiffin for kids or a perfect snack to grab when on a break.
Their plain cupcakes don't have a creamy centre, but they taste just as good as the others. They cost only Tk5 and are available in vanilla, chocolate and milky butter.
If the robots can make cakes, they can make some crispy biscuits as well, right? As the CMO of Akij Bakers explained, their biscuits do taste like they're made with top-class flour. The crackers were crispy and fresh.
From Energy to Glucose Akij's biscuit universe is vast! They tried to instil every familiar idea of biscuits in their product line and are available in different sizes.
Apart from Funtastic cake and biscuits, we also tasted the Bakeman's biscuits and the Fast bread and bun products.Their premium choco supreme cookies were light and scrummy.
They aim to satisfy every class of people and provide a convenient solution to bring ease to people's lives. With immense success in a short period, Akij Bakers are determined to stay consistent with the quality and bring more delectable bakery items to their consumers.