When a product makes you look twice, widens your eyes, and peaks your cooking interest that’s got to be a good thing, right? I stumbled upon Taste Aroma’s products at the fruit and vegetable stall at the A&C Mall. The packaging caught my eye and I definitely looked twice, picked it up and thought wow, this is such a great idea! Why didn’t I think of this?
Anita Williams is the CEO of Selica Gold Limited, the parent company bringing you Taste Aroma. I was lucky enough to meet her at the Vittles Food Festival and she was so gracious with her time and talked to me about the company and their maiden product, a stir-fry cooking sauce. I was so impressed with their stand set up and marketing material. It reminded me of companies I had seen in Sydney, Australia, at my favourite annual food show. The staff were also very professional and courteous. Staying true to their brand, Anita and her team are “focused on how we present ourselves to the consumer”. Their marketing material included spatulas, reusable shopping bags and keyrings. Anita explains that “we always want to give the consumer something for supporting us, and we know the cost is minimal compared to the lifetime value of a loyal consumer”.
A qualified lawyer, Anita moved back to Ghana ten years ago from New York City. She started the Taste Aroma brand in December 2016 after deciding to leave her profession to explore her passion in entrepreneurship and business. Impressively, the brand was launched (on target) in May 2017, a mere five months after she started the business! Now that’s a woman on a mission.
A foodie at heart, Anita saw a gap in the Ghanaian market for sauce sachets. She started her experimentation with different Asian cuisines at boarding school overseas, and brought her experiences home to Ghana. Her biggest fans were friends and family who would often ask her to bottle stir-fry sauces for them to use at home. Being a busy professional in a demanding role and often returning home often after 7pm, she “needed to be able to cook something quick, tasty and nutritious”. This also gave her the idea to product something that can be prepared within fifteen minutes.
Her experience and passion conceived the idea of starting her own business with the vision of introducing Asian recipes and Asian style cooking to Ghanaians. While Anita realises that it will be a challenge to introduce a whole new way of cooking to Ghanaians, she’s excited by this opportunity and fuelled by her love of stir-frying. When they started the company, they conducted a focus group with 21 women (all strangers) to test the response and “when we had a positive thumbs-up to the proposition I decided to go for it.”
Female students, professionals or busy mothers aged between 18-45 years of age are their target consumers. Nicknamed “Monique”, their target consumer is also a “woman who enjoys trying new things, new cuisines and who also has an active life, whether though her career, family or church.”
Ghana Food and Drugs Authority certified, the sauce sachets retail for around 4 Cedis a packet. Depending on your appetite, it could easily feed a whole family of two adults and two kids. It’s extremely cost effective and definitely a time saver. A complete meal, just chop up all the ingredients you want to put into your stir-fry, marinade the meat for a mere twenty minutes (or if you can plan ahead, marinade overnight for maximum flavour), cook with the sauce and serve with freshly steamed rice or boiled noodles.
While the recipe is formulated in Ghana, the product is packaged in China. The sauce is a blend of soy sauce, chilli, ginger, onion and rice wine. As soy sauce is the main ingredient in their sauce, they found that it was more cost effective to source and package the product in China. Their medium-term plan is to “build the brand, raise capital and hopefully build a plant in Ghana.”
Taste Aroma kindly sent me some sample sachets for this post and I cooked a beef sauce according to the instructions on the packet. It was really simple, and while I followed the ingredient suggestions (carrots, onions and green peppers) on the back of the packet, you can really play around by adding other types vegetables and protein, as shown in some of the photos within this post. I also marinated the beef for a few hours instead of twenty minutes as suggested on the pack. Then it was just a matter of stir frying the meat and vegetables before adding the rest of the sauce. I served it with steamed rice and voila, dinner was served.
I found that the sauce is tailored for the Ghanaian taste, with the dominant flavours coming from the soy sauce and chilli. It also reminds me of the beef and chicken sauces I’ve tried at restaurants and cafes in Accra, and they were always so tasty and flavourful. As it’s on the spicy side, it didn’t suit my girls’ tastes (they can handle spice well but this was a little too much for them) so I’m looking forward to the other less spicy varieties of sauces.
Plans for other varieties of stir-fry cooking sauces are in the near future, including more sauces and products from around Asia and the world that are tasty and easy to make. Their main aim is to first help the market to adopt this new way of cooking, embrace it and enjoy the variety of meals that can be made from their sauces.
Their long-term plans are to expand to other parts of Africa, as well as to Europe and the U.S.A. Anita’s vision for her company for the next five years is to “plan to have a portfolio of products in line with the company’s brand which we will introduce to the Ghanaian market, have a high percentage of brand awareness within our target market and hopefully be manufacturing and packaging the majority of products in Ghana. God willing, we should also have entered one or two new territories by then as well.”
Taste Aroma is available at major grocery stores such as Palace, Melcom and Shoprite and some open markets. It’s also stocked in many mini-marts in the residential areas. You can contact Taste Aroma to find your closest retailers. They’re very responsive on their Facebook and Instagram accounts or you can call and/or WhatsApp them on +233 561 890 077.
Have you tried Taste Aroma’s stir fry sauces? What did you make?