Dusit Foods Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Dusit International, one of Thailand’s leading hotel and property development companies, has entered into a 51:49 joint venture with South Africa’s Real Foods Group, to bring its popular healthy fast-casual restaurant concept, Kauai, to Southeast Asia, under the Thai brand name, Real Foods – with its first store opening recently at Virgin Active Fitness Club 101 The Third Place in Bangkok.
Established 23 years ago, the Kauai brand serves 7.3 million healthy meals each year across its 164 stores in South Africa and the Netherlands. The brand has established itself as an innovative leader in the health space, with its inspired smoothies, salads, wraps and warm bowls – all made with a commitment to sustainable sourcing and bringing convenient, nutritious options to consumers worldwide.
Located at True Digital Park 101, a landmark mixed-use development near Sukhumvit Soi 101, the first Real Foods store at Virgin Active Fitness Club 101 The Third Place is easily accessible from Punnawithi and Udomsuk BTS (Skytrain) stations.
The Real Food stores in Thailand will retain the Kauai concept and store design, and also most of the menu. The menu features over 100 superfood ingredients, including free-range eggs, collagen, whey protein, spirulina, kale, broccoli and spinach, used to make a range of nutritious and delicious dishes and drinks with a focus on natural produce.
Roughly 30% of the menu has been modified to meet Thai tastes, including the addition of new items such as a soba noodle salad, iced matcha smoothie, Thai red milk tea and iced coffee drinks.
Firm favourites like the Princess Wrap and the Strawberry Stinger, which have been on the menu since Kauai’s inception, will be available in Thai stores.
The development of Real Foods in Thailand is in line with Dusit Food’s mission to invest in proven and profitable businesses, expand into high growth spaces, and respond to consumer trends while positively serving the community through the delivery of healthy, wholesome food products that reflect four key pillars of sustainable production – healthy, natural, organic, and locally sourced.
“Globally, there is a major shift taking place as consumers seek out healthier, natural food options which are both affordable and convenient, said Mr Jate Sopitpongstorn, MD of Dusit Foods Co. Ltd. “With our extensive experience in food, resorts and hospitality, moving into standalone outlets was an obvious next step for Dusit. The Thai joint venture, Dusit Real Foods, will oversee the opening of several fast-casual restaurants in Thailand, with possible expansion into retail ranges. Dusit Real Foods already has another three stores lined up through its long-standing relationship with Virgin Active health clubs. As we hold master-franchise rights, we will also look at expanding Real Foods outside of Thailand too, leveraging our strong network of hotels and resorts in APAC, UAE, Qatar and Oman to introduce Real Foods in more new markets worldwide.”
Mr Sopitpongstorn added that Real Foods will also benefit from access to top-tier hospitality and restaurant talent from Dusit’s hospitality education programme, ensuring Dusit’s renowned gracious service is part of the offering. And Real Foods will differentiate itself from other healthy food stores and producers in the Thai market by offering a comprehensive range of responsibly sourced menu items that can be customized for vegans and vegetarians to paleo and keto devotees. “Basically, it will be a one-stop-shop for all their healthy food needs,” he said.
23 successful years of healthy food
Dean Kowarski, Real Foods Group CEO explains that the premium brand, which has become synonymous with natural food, has a strong appeal for those embracing healthier living on account of its emphasis on nutrition and responsible sourcing.
“At Real Foods we care about what you put in your body because we know that eating well is key for a good life. We are committed to making nutritious and delicious food and drinks with an emphasis on real, responsibly sourced natural produce,” he said. “This means, where possible, our food is free of GMO’s, low in refined sugar and avoids additives, preservatives, artificial colourants or flavourants. As an example, we only use free-range chicken and eggs, which shows our commitment to responsible sourcing.
“We make healthy eating delicious, easy and convenient and there is something for everyone on our menu. Our new partnership in Thailand demonstrates that Real Foods is achieving its mission of bringing more health and wellness options to consumers worldwide.
“Our stores offer a mix of both take-away and sit-down meals,” notes Kowarski, adding that the health sector is growing faster than fast food outlets.
The Real Foods store experience
Real Food positions itself at the leading edge of global health food and consumer trends. Stores strategically showcase colourful food and fresh ingredients against the minimalist black and white backdrop of the store. Inspired by clean-line simplicity, the store concept features a neutral palette of concrete tiles and cool white marble counters, complemented by warm oaks and crisp black and white graphics.
Future Growth Plans
Within the coming months, Real Foods will also supply its healthy meals and drinks to six other Virgin Active health clubs throughout the city, ensuring Bangkok residents have convenient, grab and go access to wholesome and healthy food. The brand also has plans for expanding its Thai store footprint into the retail space, and is actively seeking exciting new retail locations.
Dusit Real Foods owns the territory rights to Southeast Asia and Australia, and is currently exploring opportunities in these markets.