Languages around the world are filled with references to food’s relation to love. Therefore, if home is where the heart is and the way to the heart is through the stomach, then TWI Foods brings the tastes and flavours of South Asia home. With eleven lines of delicious flatbreads, cakes, cookies, and other baked goods under its Crispy label, there is no shortage of creativity here.
TWI Foods is built on a sincere love of enjoyment, and its golden rule is to manufacture only treats worthy of appearing on the owner’s own table. “I know good food, and if I’m not prepared to eat something myself, we definitely won’t manufacture or market it,” says TWI Foods’s Chief Executive Officer Ali Kizilbash. Because of this attitude, customers are always guaranteed fresh, delicious, high-quality products.
Ali, also a chemical engineer, is innovative and undaunted by the complexities of quality food manufacturing. He not only designs and builds the equipment needed for his company’s phenomenal output, but he also invents ways in which to share his passion for good food with a global audience.
The company came into being when Ali started looking at niche markets in 1997. “I wanted to revive people’s love and memories of South Asian food. So, I set that as my challenge, and this is what I started out with,” he says. The team began manufacturing in one-thousand-square-foot premises, and the business grew from there. Within a year, the company had grown so much that it moved into a seven-thousand-square-foot space, before launching into a massive 150,000-square-foot facility in 2012. TWI foods continued to grow consistently to where it is today, with twenty percent annual growth, global distributors, and an international fan base.
Part of the company’s runaway success is due to its mammoth production capacity. With his solid expertise in chemical engineering, Ali is heavily involved in the company’s research and development department, as well as designing and fabricating the outfit’s machinery. TWI Foods invests heavily in the latest technology to stay way ahead of the competition. “Our competitors tend to be low-scale, whereas we are entirely diversified and high-tech on an industrial scale. Every one of our lines is a high-productivity line,” Ali adds.
At a rate of 26,000 units per hour, TWI Foods is something of naan heaven for those in love with the rich, dappled Asian flatbread. Its slightly less rich, but every-bit-as-tasty, cousin roti comes hot off the press at a whopping 14,000 units per hour. And for those with a sweet tooth, this team needs only one hour to crank out a ton of top quality cookies. The sheer scale of its operation allows the company to export from Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario, as far as Australia. In fact, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and Europe all enjoy tonnes of these much-loved, traditional South Asian foods.
Needless to say, the great taste and outstanding value of its products is the principal reason for the company’s runaway success. “We like to do things differently. When we see a product that does well, we look at how we can make it better,” says Ali.
This is how its cake rusk came about. What was once a popular teething aid for babies in England soon became a popular breakfast food in Asia. When the company first introduced it to the American market, the cake rusk proved an instant hit and has now also become a firm favourite here.
Its sliced pound cake is another example of taking the ordinary and tweaking it slightly to make it extraordinary. TWI’s sliced version of this generations-old sweet allows consumers to have one slice of cake at a time while keeping the rest of the loaf fresh. The same ingenuity made the company’s naan an international bestseller. After tasting a horrendous version by another company, Ali set out to develop a traditional naan without the standard amount of preservatives, but one that would remain fresh and taste like naan should.
While Ali is its main visionary, the company’s frontline staff enjoys a large amount of responsibility. The company’s CEO believes in giving people the tools needed to run a smooth operation, to empower themselves and enjoy job satisfaction. “Our people are our assets, and that is why we take good care of them. We do what we can to support everyone in becoming the best that they can be through motivation,” Ali adds. After over twenty years in the industry, this has proved to be a winning combination, and the company reaps the benefits of the dedicated workforce’s efforts at keeping this the top manufacturer of South Asian favourites.
With such incredible drive, TWI Foods is no stranger to receiving big awards. In 2013 and 2014, it was listed among the top hundred Canadian companies by food and beverage processing magazine ‘Food in Canada,’ and it has received the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs’ Ontario food export award annually since 2014. It has also been chosen as a best-managed company by Deloitte and was a finalist in Ernest and Young’s EY entrepreneur of the year two years ago. It has been recognized as one of Canada’s five hundred fastest-growing companies by Profit 500, four years in a row.
And it is not just the business that has been generously rewarded for its great work, either. Ali was chosen as businessman of the year by the Canadian-Pakistan Business Council (CPBC) at its thirtieth-anniversary celebrations in 2013. Despite a number of small setbacks, rising labour costs, and an increase in automation over the years, the food manufacturer has diligently continued employing only the best candidates from the global baking industry and will continue to do so in years to come.
As market trends are strongly leaning towards healthy foods, the company is in the process of developing organic, low-fat, and low-sugar products, of which two lines are already available to distributors. The company’s increasing focus is on providing goods to the discerning, health-conscious consumer looking for a more nutritious option on supermarket shelves.
With its expanding global reach, TWI Foods’s reputation for consistent quality and competitive pricing, coupled with its addition of modern diet awareness and wellness trends promises to secure greater market share as consumers increasingly choose its brands over those of competitors. “Our key strength is that we went from catering to a niche market, to catering for almost everyone in America. We would like to see that grow even further,” says Ali.
Consumers can look forward to enjoying a lot more of the company’s treats in the future as this trusted brand will be introducing even more healthy options to the market.