Food & Beverage | Entrepreneur sees ‘big potential’ for takeaway business in Macau

Led by Paylo Lysenko, the Daily Fit is a consultancy that delivers takeaway and delivery meals to the customer’s door.

The project has met with high demand and has exceeded all initial expectations despite only being open for fewer than six months, leaving the Daily Fit team shorthanded, Lysenko told the Times in an interview.

Lysenko is a Ukrainian who has been based in Macau since 2008 and works in fitness and nutrition.

“We are currently serving [an average] of 100 to 150 meals per day and it’s growing by the week,” said Lysenko.

“There is a big potential in Macau [for this kind of business]. For us, we are just happy to see that people are starting to consume, they are ordering, they are suggesting to friends who are also [trying],” he said.

He notes that the idea was never driven by “the profit” and desire to “make big money,” and that the most important aim is to teach people how to eat well and how this can help them live better, healthier and happier lives.

Lysenko got the idea from his nutrition company, which he has run since 2013. The company specializes in supplying dietary supplements to treat nutritional deficiencies and enhance sports performance.

The company targets bodybuilders competitors such as Lysenko himself, a longtime competitor, trainer and nutritional advisor. Lysenko noticed that many of the people he was helping to train were struggling to achieve results, which he said was primarily because “supplements are not intended to replace main meals but to help with recovery or boosting the training.”

He observed that people had neither the time nor knowledge to prepare such meals by themselves, and concluded there was “a demand for this kind of service.”

At the same time, awareness of healthy food began trending in other parts of the world like Europe and the US, contributing to that demand.

Food safety and hygiene are top priorities for Lysenko, and he has noticed that “nowadays people are more knowledgeable about the food industry, restaurants and unhealthiness that results from competition between food companies that try to make it taste better using less ingredients.” He gave the example of the large campaign against the additive of MSG (Monosodium glutamate) used to enhance taste.

According to Lysenko, the public’s mentality towards health and disease needs to change.

“People take it as normal that a person in their forties or fifties has a heart condition, or diabetes; they accept it but actually it is no. The human body is perfectly created to be healthy until sixty or seventy years old without any problem [besides some genetic issues that might contribute to the early appearance of some diseases]. What causes these diseases is our habits, our food [and] our daily life.”

This is the premise that he said gave rise to the name “Daily Fit”, as it conveys the message that “being fit is something that we do on [a] daily basis and not just for some time.”

Lysenko believes that “eating clean” will become the norm in a matter of time and “in a few years will be just like having a smartphone. People will start to reject some restaurants because the food is too unhealthy.”

As for the biggest challenges Lysenko has faced – and is still facing – the primary challenge is to do with the food itself.  “Being healthy” in many cases also means “being tasteless”. That was where the need for creativity, and the combination of nutritional science with the expertise of an experienced chef, came in handy.

“We tried to go over all ingredients, do a lot of research, trying to test, to experiment, to replace high-fat and high-calorie ingredients for others that are ‘cleaner’ in order to achieve our goal, which is to have a set of very healthy meals that also taste good.”

Another contribution that the local chef has contributed to the consultancy is in the area of kitchen operations.

“He is a very high-standard person with many experiences, both in Macau and abroad, working and advising restaurants and the hotel industry.”

According to Lysenko, the chef’s experience was transfered to the kitchen and food safety standards.

“We have different fridges with different temperatures for different ingredients, and we use specific cutting boards for different types of ingredients. We seal our food and keep it in a specific place separate from the cooked food in order to keep it in hygienic conditions,” he noted.

These practices also extend to the way the food is transported to customers.

“We had to buy our own bikes and adapt them to our food items as we deliver chilled food only. We also had to train staff on how to transport and deliver items. Each step of the business is a real challenge.”

Lysenko notes it is a hard task to find staff willing to work in this field, as locals are difficult to find and hiring from abroad brings different bureaucratic challenges. Training and identifying non-domestic staff requires a “huge amount of time” as “people [hired from abroad] also need to be trained as they are no more skilled than the local ones.”

Although the business is performing “above expectations”, Lysenko is working on more adjustments. Planned updates will “add cold pressed fruit juices to the menu and to find a pick-up point on Macau”, and add to the deliveries and the existing pick-up point in Taipa at Macau Nutrition Shop.

Lysenko’s ultimate wish is “to have a proper restaurant serving healthy food where people can just drop in and have meals hot and freshly made to order, the way they are supposed to be eaten.”

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