June 19, 2020

Mochi Mix Supplier Aims To Add Value For Restaurants

Founder Of Mochi Foods: Pei Wu (Photo by PBN)

Even if the name Mochi Foods doesn’t sound familiar, chances are you’ve tried its products.

The company provides the premix base for various treats — mochi doughnuts, mochi waffles and mochi pancakes among them — at a handful of bakeries across the state. And since launching Mochi Foods in 2016, founder Pei Wu has expanded her client list to include a growing number of bake shops, grocery retailers and distributors throughout the country. Mochi Foods products can now be found in 13 states, and most recently, Wu has begun to expand the company to include international accounts.

“I love mochi, so I wanted to bring the mochi flavor to everyone,” Wu said.

The coronavirus, of course, has paused some of Mochi Foods’ expansion plans, but in the meantime, Wu has grown sales for individual retail bags and launched a new website designed to facilitate online sales. Now, she’s gearing up for what she anticipates will be a stronger latter part of the year.

“As restaurants slowly open up, I am looking forward to working again with all my customers,” Wu said. “When they’re ready to open, we’re ready.”

Within the next year, Wu hopes to double the company’s number of national accounts while continuing to increase her presence globally.

What is your strategy in reaching out to new clients?

I would say it’s half people finding us, and half us reaching out to potential customers.

A lot of people find us through our website when they want to open a doughnut shop or add mochi doughnuts to their shop. Social media has been an important part, too. Or when tourists come to Hawaii, they try mochi products, they love it, and then they reach out to me.

I usually go to at least two trade shows a year. A lot of customers from outside of Hawaii have found us there — that’s how we expanded to Tahiti. Trade shows are a good place to find customers because they can try the product there.

We also usually look for bakeries and introduce ourselves to them. We reach out to them and see if they know about mochi and if they would be willing to try our mix.

What are your partnerships like with clients?

I am very hands-on with the chefs. We have our base mix, but if you add different ingredients, the product will come out differently. So whenever I get an inquiry, I help each chef or business owner decide what they need based on their space and what they want. I will teach them step-by-step or help them customize their creation. We can also make custom-made products for our customers or we work with them to change recipes if there is a need for that, so every customer is unique. That is the most enjoyable part for us — it’s our goal to create these different opportunities for each individual.

How does Mochi Foods benefit clients?

It helps restaurants create different menu items, which means new revenue for them. If they sell a mochi pancake, they can charge a little bit more because it’s a unique item, so that is extra income.

How has Covid-19 impacted you?

With the coronavirus, all of our original plans for growth had to shift. It impacted our customers — we supply hotels and restaurants, and they have all been impacted.

But because families are spending more time together at home, we have seen the [individual] sales increase — people want to make mochi doughnuts at home, or mochi pancakes or waffles.

We’ve used this time to re-think about our goals and do the things that normally, when it’s busy, we might not do. We’re talking to the chefs more and we’ve launched a new website that is mobile-friendly to increase our e-commerce sales. We’re trying some different new products and looking at other ways that we can grow in the next year.

What are your plans for growth in the next few months?

We want to reach out to more customers nationwide — either restaurant owners or food services, or families. We’ve grown strong here in Hawaii, so the next step is to launch in a few more states on the Mainland. When the opportunity comes, then we will definitely want to expand internationally.

Christina O’Connor

Pacific Business News