Born in August 2020–in the middle of the pandemic–Moo Creamery has become pretty popular since then. Crafting handmade ice cream with original flavors and even vegan options, this Macau-based company has everything to become a big deal in the handmade ice cream world. They started with online deliveries but soon opened their own store, just one year after everything started! We had the chance to sit down with founders Liin Hanifah and Winsy Un and learned all about this passion-turned-business. Scroll down and explore their start, popular flavors, and much more!
When was your company founded?
We first formed the online shop in August 2020 and our retail shop was officially opened in September 2021. At first, we just wanted to do something during the pandemic. We love cooking and baking and wanted to create a small business. We did a lot of research back then on deciding what product category do we do. At the time home baking was very popular and competition was fierce, and we did not have any formal training so we decided that wasn’t the smartest thing to do. We thought about what people love, and out of all the options on the table, ice cream is a clear winner. It took us months of trial and error to come up with a consistent way of making them.
What is the concept? What makes it special and different from your competitors?
It may sound counterintuitive to a lot of people especially those from a western background, but our secret of success is to lower the amount of sugar we use and to use more genuine ingredients. It may sound simple but trust me it’s not easy! Sugar in a way is like MSG, the magic ingredient that makes every dessert taste better. And we all know that regular and high intake of sugar is trouble for anyone’s health, especially for children. During the research phase, we were shocked at how much sugar is in commercial ice cream products! So it demands and takes a lot of effort to make something tasty while trying to keep sugar at a minimum.
You are now the proud founders of Moo Creamery. But what’s your background? Did you have any experience in the food industry previously?
We actually never had any professional training in the food industry. However, I would say we are seasoned home cooks and bakers, as it is my biggest passion. I have not worked since I got married 14 years ago, so making food and dessert for my family has been one of my favorite things to do.
You have some very original flavors! How do you decide on new flavors? What are the ones you’re most proud of or most popular?
We try to have a mixture of flavors that consist of the classics and something original and innovative. Classics because they are never out of fashion and they are always popular, original flavors because if you want your customers to have something to remember by, something that sets you apart from other ice cream brands. Although I have to say when making new flavors we always put flavors as the top priority because you can’t have successful flavors just for the sake of being different. Also when we design a new flavor sometimes the seasonal factor comes into play, for example in the summer we would try to make more fruity and refreshing flavors that are more suitable for the hot summer. During colder months we would try to make something a little stronger and flavorful so that it doesn’t lose its identity when you eat ice cream in cold winter. For example, we launched a lychee flavor for the summer which was very popular, and we had just launched bourbon butterscotch for this winter; we had a Baileys one last winter.
Our most popular flavor has been pandan coconut, I made this flavor partly due to my Indonesian background where pandan is extensively used for dessert and it is a perfect match with coconut, and it is one that has been available from the very beginning and is still going strong and we are very proud of it.
What’s the most difficult part of ice cream creation?
The most difficult part of making ice cream is the control of temperature during the production process. We have learned a lot since we began this venture. It is very different to let’s say baking as you can just set the temperature in the oven. First, you need to pasteurize and homogenize all the ingredients at a high temperature, then you need to age it at a lower temperature. In the end, when you make the actual ice cream itself you need machines that run at lower than -20C. Then you need a blast freezer to rapidly freeze the ice cream. If the temperature is not controlled properly, the flavor and texture of the ice cream can be substantially affected. So it is a very cohesive process that you need to monitor every step of the way.
You founded Moo Creamery during the pandemic. What made you decide to do that? Did you face any challenges?
We founded Moo Creamery because we believe Macau deserves its own ice cream brand that is not so tourism-focused. We felt that this is a very specialized space in the market and we decided to have a crack at it. During the phase of research, we also found that most of the commercial ice creams are very unhealthy because they contain a very high content of sugar, with inferior ingredients. So we decided to make ice cream that is both delicious and also healthier with quality ingredients and lower sugar, we hope our customers can recognize that and I think it works.
There have been many challenges of course! Once again the nature of the products requires a lot of instruments to make it work, like a lot of fridges and freezers, ice cream machines, and more. Also delivering products to our customers can be a challenge because you can’t deliver melted ice cream! So we took a lot of time to refine the delivery process and the packages we use. And whenever we have events we need to move a lot of fridges and freezers, so it’s not like you bake a cake then you can move it quickly, so from the process of making to delivering it takes a lot of attention to detail to be where we are. Another challenge is that ice cream is regarded to be a kind of “unhealthy” food, so we try to change that perception as well.
How has the public’s reaction been?
I think so far the reaction has been brilliant. We are very happy that many of our loyal customers recognize we put a lot of effort into making good quality ice cream. We have a combined 5000+ followers on social media in just a year, so that’s pretty crazy. We love it when people interact with us online making suggestions and giving compliments to us, it feels very satisfying. One thing always stuck in our mind is that whenever we participated in the Tap Siac Craft Market people would go there just to buy our ice cream because it was one of the few occasions where we can meet customers face to face, we are very proud of that.
Who makes the ice creams? What are some of the main ingredients?
We make all the ice cream by ourselves from scratch. From pasteurizing, homogenizing, aging, churning, cupping, marketing, everything! So it’s a team effort between two families as founding members. The main ingredients of ice cream are milk and cream, we also have vegan flavors which are made from coconut milk, and our keto ice cream uses almond milk, so it depends. Also, we try to use as many raw ingredients as possible so that we have more control over the profile of flavor and are able to create more distinctive flavors.
Who is your target audience?
We would say the largest target audience is young parents. They are very conscious of what their kids should be eating. But in general, we found that young people are more interested. But then, ice cream is a well-loved dessert among people of all backgrounds and ages, we even have a few very loyal customers who are in their 60s and 70s!
Where can people have a Moo Creamery ice cream?
We officially opened our store in September 2021. It was partly due to the new regulation where online vendors can no longer sell food without a physical store. And also partly because we want to take the business a little bit further because no one would take you seriously if you do not have a physical store, you have more business options by providing retailers and restaurants with your products, also people can order Mfood directly anytime they want or they could come to your shop to buy things whenever they like, as opposed to before where everything is ordered by appointment. So opening a shop allows us to open other doors of opportunities.
What other future plans can you tell us about?
In the short term, we just want to focus on making a wider range of ice cream products. On top of our regular ice cream, we also had froyo, vegan, and we had just launched our keto series not long ago. So at this stage, we just want to make ice cream that is appreciated by a wider range of customers.
In the long run, we do want to open our own manufacturing plant in Macau where we could have a certified production of ice cream and go to the shelves of all supermarkets in Macau, as well as exporting to Hong Kong and mainland China in the future. We would like to become one of Macau’s signature food brands!
Also read: Businesses in Macau: Taking Ideas to the Next Level
Moo Creamery 14A Travessa de Ho Kong Loi, Edif. Vang Kwong, Macau, +853 6539 0090, www.facebook.com/moo.cream.mo