Phoon Huat, founded in 1947 by Hainanese entrepreneur Wong Tai Fuang, is a household name known across generations of Singaporeans with honesty and reliability at its core. Growing from humble beginnings in a small 35 sqm shop along Middle Road with Tai Fuang personally delivering goods on his bicycle, Phoon Huat boasts a wide network of 22 stores across the island today.
After 75 years of bringing in quality baking and cooking essentials from all corners of the globe, Singapore’s leading food supplier, Phoon Huat has recently celebrated its rich heritage and history with a one-day-only family-friendly carnival at NorthShore Plaza on 26 November 2022.
Our editorial team speaks to Jean Wong, Phoon Huat’s Head of Commercial Department, Director of Business Development, and granddaughter of founder, Wong Tai Fuang to find out more about how Phoon Huat has remained successful over the last 75 years, exciting new developments as well as their upcoming plans for 2023. Read on to find out more.
Interview with Jean Wong, Head of the Commercial Department and Director of Business Development, Phoon Huat
1. How has Phoon Huat remained successful over the last 75 years?
Jean Wong: Phoon Huat is a household name for generations of Singaporeans. We are recognised by customers as a leading food supplier that not only offers the best quality and value-for-money baking and cooking essentials, but that is driven by honesty and reliability.
As the name Phoon Huat (which translates to working hard diligently and being prosperous) suggests, the business has grown from humble beginnings; it was initially run from a 35 sqm shop in Middle Road, with our founder and my grandfather, Wong Tai Fuang, personally making deliveries on his bicycle.
We remain inspired by him and carry that spirit of diligence and resilience with us today, even as we have expanded to become a vertically integrated direct-to-consumer business that is a trusted supplier to businesses in the F&B industry and consumers.
Today, Phoon Huat has a production facility and distribution centre at its headquarters and an impressive fleet of 25 multi-temperature zone delivery trucks serving over 4,000 B2B delivery points. We also export to over 10 countries, and own 21 retail stores island-wide.
To remain successful, we’ve also had to ensure that our brands stay relevant and relatable for younger generations, so we went through rebranding in 2012 for RedMan to give the long-standing brand a contemporary look and feel in terms of labelling, packaging, and on our website.
2. What inspired the rebranding of RedMan?
Jean Wong: Brands that are steeped in tradition and heritage, like RedMan, must remain forward-looking and constantly identify how trends change over time to meet consumer needs.
This inspired me to spearhead the rebranding of RedMan in 2012 to allow the brand to remain relatable and continue to draw in customers from all walks of life.
The rebranding included refreshing the RedMan logo, packaging, and website. We also worked with two different consultancy firms in order to ensure that we were able to get as much professional expertise as needed. Together, we conducted various focus group studies and focused on analysing accurate impressions of what our consumers changing needs and demands were.
From those insights, I encouraged our management to think deeply about how the brand will look and continue to evolve over the coming decade.
3. Apart from the 75th anniversary celebrations, what were the key exciting new developments for Phoon Huat in 2022?
Jean Wong: This year, we increased our focus on research and development to develop a better selection of products under our in-house brands in terms of quality, quantity, and variety.
This included expanding our offerings based on the rising trends of interests in sustainably sourced, as well as plant-based ingredients.
We have recently started retailing NouMi by Ants Innovate. They focus on creating nutritional, delicious and affordable high-quality sustainably created plant-based options that taste like real meat. Not to mention, their plant-based bak kwa, baos, and spring rolls are soy-protein free and halal-certified.
We look forward to continuing to expand our offerings and remain focused on R&D to meet the needs that come with new food trends. Through doing so, we hope to remain relevant at the top of the industry, and continue to capture new customer segments.
4. Could you share more about Phoon Huat’s upcoming plans for 2023?
Jean Wong: We will continue expanding our offerings, based on the changing needs and demands of our customers, new and old.
Phoon Huat will constantly look out for opportunities to continue developing the business, and to always observe trends and competition in the industry so that we can offer only the best quality and value-for-money cooking and baking essentials to our customers.
Phoon Huat will also continue to work towards exploring how to make the business more sustainable. Currently, our plastic bags are all biodegradable and we have introduced eco bags which are made from recycled plastic. Part of our proceeds from plastic bags sales are donated to the Community Chest. Moving forward, we are also ensuring that all the suppliers we embark on new partnerships with have their own sustainability policies.
Stay tuned on https://www.phoonhuat.com/ for more updates!
Images credit to Phoon Huat and Jean Wong