Conventional wisdom holds that you are what you eat. Life can be hectic at times, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle on a tight schedule can be difficult.

Mark Cassar, a bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast, was all too aware of this frustration. With a background in investment alongside long-time friend Aaron Buhagiar, the pair decided to incorporate Maar Foods Ltd, the company behind Fortify Meals.

After analysing the lack of proper meal prep services, Fortify Meals was founded with the mission of providing customers with convenient, healthy and nutritious meals.

The business began by outsourcing the kitchen operations, but after being disappointed by the service quality, they realised that nothing but complete control over the kitchen would lead to success.

Following the brand's successful launch, the decision was made to invest in a full-fledged kitchen rather than outsourcing meal preparation to a third-party commercial kitchen.

As a result, an agreement was reached with Mauro Leonardi, an experienced chef with over 15 years in the catering industry and an early supporter of the Fortify Meals brand, to join forces and grow the business together.

Mr Buhagiar explains that it is “imperative” that company founders wear many hats at once, on top of the typical leadership tasks like building a product, getting funding, and developing a go-to-market strategy.

“Being the kitchen assistant, the delivery driver, and customer service representative are just a few of the numerous roles I had to assume until the business was thriving enough to employ personnel in such roles,” he says.

“As a company, we have made an effort to hire candidates who are capable of filling multiple roles. For instance, in the early months, we lacked the revenue to employ a full-time delivery driver. As a result, we sought a candidate who could also assist us with our administration work, and thus combined the two roles into a single job vacancy.”

He says that being agile and lean in the early days aided the company in rapidly adapting to changing market conditions while remaining focused on growing market share.

“This has resulted in impressive growth, with our team expanding from three to twelve full-time employees over the last 12 months.”

The remarkable growth largely followed the launch of its new user-friendly website, where potential customers can browse through the different services offered by Fortify Meals; meal plans, meal packs and personalised plans, view the weekly menus and their nutritional values, place their orders and pay online.

Moreover, the website offers a plethora of information and tips on how customers can lead a healthy lifestyle, and site visitors are encouraged to get in touch with the team with any questions.

Since launching the website at the end of March 2021, the company has received tremendous positive feedback from its customers, to the point that it has now almost outgrown its current kitchen capacity.

“As we investigate new business opportunities for Fortify Meals, we are excited to embark in the transformation of a circa 300 sqm industrial space into a new commercial kitchen that can cater to much bigger consumer demand,” Mr Buhagiar says.

Meet the team

Mark Cassar – Financial Director, Business Development and Shareholder

Mr Cassar has been actively involved in the corporate and accounting services industry for the past 10 years. Mark is a Certified Public Accountant, having completed ACCA qualification, and is a full member of the Malta Institute of Accounts. At Fortify Meals, Mark is responsible for all finance, accounting and corporate duties including payroll, preparation of financial statements, VAT compliance, processing of invoices and bank reconciliation.

Mauro Leonardi - Operations and Sales Relationship Manager and Shareholder

With over 15 years of gastronomic experience, Mauro strives to use his knowledge and passion for good food to challenge the local meal prep industry. He believes that good nutrition is essential for everyone, not just athletes. His creative approach breaks the myth of boring and restrictive diets with a breath of fresh air. At Fortify Meals, Mauro leads a dedicated team of professional chefs, communicates with clients and supports them on the journey to reach their goals.

Aaron Buhagiar - Founder and Managing Director

A graduate from the University of Malta with a Bachelor of Science Honours in Information Technology in 2010, Mr Buhagiar then pursued a Master's degree in knowledge-based entrepreneurship at the University of Malta. He spent 11 years in the IGaming industry, first in the sports trading department and then as a data analyst.

He transitioned to working full-time for the company in July 2021. His role is to constantly review and analyse the company's data and to make recommendations for process, product, and technology optimisations. His primary goal is to ensure the business's technology and processes align.

Main Image:

Read Next: Placeholder

Written By

Robert Fenech

Robert is curious about the connections that make the world work, and takes a particular interest in the confluence of economy, environment and justice. He can also be found moonlighting as a butler for his big black cat.