Sweet but not deadly: Brotani’s Pina Lima juice a healthier option for all

27 Mar 2022 07:25am
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In August of 2020, four high school friends banded together in the hopes of becoming successful agropreneurs. Two months later, Brotani took off.

A plantation turned beverage company, Brotani is spearheaded by Aizat Long, Izz Thaqif, Amirul Hakim and Burhanuddin Asyraaff Mahmood. All four gave up their nine-to-fives to embark on farm life.

“After doing some market research, we found that there was a significant demand for fruit juices, pineapples in particular, so we decided to start planting the sweetest of them all on two plots of land we have,” said Aizat, who handles Marketing.

Seeing the market potential in the exceptional hybrid selection “73-114”, later renamed to MD2 in honour of Millie Dillard, the four then set out to create their very own Pina Lima juice, bottled pineapple juice mixed in with a bit of lime.

Despite being one of the sweetest pineapple breeds in the world, Aizat mentioned that MD2 is not that hard to take care of, which was why it took precedence over durians.

What’s not easy, he said, was working with your best friends.

“We constantly have to take care of each other’s feelings but at the same time, we must be professional. I would recommend it to anyone out there because it is fun but you must know your boundaries.

“Know that nothing is personal. If someone in the group is slacking, you have to be direct about it and not keep it to yourself,” he said.

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Fast forward to 2022, the company now focuses on providing healthier and more affordable beverage options to consumers.

Unlike the typical beverage company that has a 100 per cent profit margin, Brotani implemented a lower than 100 per cent margin in order to make their juices affordable.

The company also sells cut pineapples and the whole fruit itself besides the Pina Lima bottled juice. In the near future, they are looking into making more flavours to add to their juice selection.

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A lot goes into the process of making Brotani’s Pina Lima juice. Even before harvesting the fruits - which takes a total of 14 months to bear fruit - the soil is treated with fertilisers to ensure it is nutritious and prepared enough to grow the MD2 pineapples.

Layers and layers of silvershine plastic are then placed to prevent weeds from growing in between the pineapples. This is also done for disease control.

“We plant trees based on measurements, exactly so that when they get to adult stage, they wouldnt come in different sizes.

“We would then spray fertilisers every 3 months. Organic fertilisers on the other hand, are periodically sprayed every 2 weeks up until the trees are about 8 months old,” said Izz, who is in charge of operations.

The company strives to be sustainable, which is why all the waste produced from processing the fruits into bottled juices are gathered to be made into compost for organic fertilisers.

The pineapple crowns are also reused to grow more pineapple trees for the next batch.

Despite all this, only the right fruits are chosen to be used for the Pina Lima juice. The co-founders shared that pineapples that are too ripe and too sweet will not be used to make the juice.

Aizat stated that he has his expectations for the upcoming holy month of Ramadan. As a beverage company, he is looking at a steady increase in sales during Ramadan because Brotani offers a drink made from natural sugar which is better for breaking one’s fast.

Known for their out-of-the-box marketing tactics - which is the brand’s strong point, Aizat told Sinar Daily that the brand sources its ideas from all over the world, especially the U.S., where he completed his Master’s.

“We try to replicate that but contextualise it for the local consumers. We especially love doing Instagram Reels, because that’s where we get the most engagement.

“We don’t have a specific marketing style, but we ride along the wave of whatever is trendy at that moment in time,” he explained.

However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows. Just like any other brand, Brotani has its fair share of struggles too. The brand lost a couple of its crops when the floods hit back in December.

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“The recent floods were not good news for our crops because pineapple is a dry fruit. Its super sensitive to water,” Aizat said.

But what saved the business was the co-founders’ quick thinking and fast action. They decided to build a drainage system that was bigger than most to prevent excess flood water from destroying more of their crops.

This clearly worked, as the recent floods that ravaged parts of the country earlier this month proved to have had little to no effect on both plots.

Izz shared that the drainage system helps divert the excess water through a pipe underground towards a small man-made pond near the farm, which then helps mitigate the problem by letting the water flow to the main drainage system by the side of the road.

“In business, you have to take action before it's too late because every single mistake costs money,” Aizat advised.