We catch up with Alvin Choo, the fifth-generation co-owner of Kwong Cheong Thye, a soya sauce manufacturer. A household name and leading brand in creating authentic local sauces, Kwong Cheong Thye has been operating in Singapore since 1892. Having exhibited at FHA for many editions, we spoke to Alvin to hear more about his experience at this year’s FHA.
The original interview was conducted in Mandarin and has been translated for this article.
Q: Can you share with us about the history behind the name “Kwong Cheong Thye”?
Kwong Cheong Thye was started by my fourth great grandfather. When he started this business, he felt that Kwong Cheong Thye 广祥泰 these 3 words are very important, 广 (kwong) means a business needs to be extensive, we need to be as broad as possible. 祥 (cheong) means good luck and prosperity, 泰 (thye) means we need to have that rock solid stability, we need to guard the business with stability.
Q: We understand that you have been exhibiting at FHA for many years, what were some of your goals at this year’s show?
Actually, my mom has a photo of our participation in the 1988 edition of FHA and I wasn’t even born yet. Back then they rented half a booth, I think it was less than 6 square metres. At that time, we participated in FHA to source for hotel buyers and to do business with hotels and restaurants.
30 years later, we are still participating in FHA, but with a bigger booth this time, around 72 square metres, this is because through FHA and all the efforts from my parents and everyone in the business, we have a lot of hotel customers. Many 5 star hotels are using our soy sauce.
Now that we have a bigger booth, it’s like a gathering with our hotel buyers, chefs, and our friends from the hotel and restaurant to try new products, and for us to gather some feedback.
Q: What is the one product that you would like to highlight at this year’s show?
Every time at FHA, we would always come out with new product for everyone to try. Being a business focused on Chinese cuisine in Singapore, this time we have come out with something that’s catered to western cuisines such as barbeque sweet sauce and pasta sauces, but they still carry the local Nanyang flavor, they’re a bit spicy. These are the new products that we brought in for our international buyers to try, and so far we have received good feedback.
Q: Which key buyer profiles did you meet at FHA this year?
We always meet with local restaurants and hotels, most of them are already our clients. We will host the local ones and look for suitable clients who do export. This time we met more buyers from neighbouring countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines. These are also the regions that we want to focus on, as we see growth and potential in these few markets, therefore we feel that it will be a good opportunity to venture into these markets.
Q: Why do you think it’s important to attend FHA?
“I think the trade professionals should attend FHA because we have a lot of new trends and products coming up in the F&B industry, so we need to keep ourselves updated and gain new knowledge.”
I think the trade professionals should attend FHA because we have a lot of new trends and products coming up in the F&B industry, so we need to keep ourselves updated and gain new knowledge. If we limit ourselves to online research, it is totally different from coming to FHA where there is face-to-face interaction. It is through exhibitions like FHA that we can learn about new products, trends in food tech and plant-based food.
Looking to expand your business into the Asian market?
FHA – Food and Beverage returns next year on 23-26 April 2024 at Singapore Expo. With a line-up of leading global suppliers, industry professionals can anticipate the most extensive showcase of trending F&B and hospitality products and solutions, cutting-edge technologies for food & drinks manufacturing, and more at the mega event. Contact us to get involved.