Snack is a favorite time for Singaporeans. For many, the traditional snacks they grew up with are the ones that hit the spot.
Although snacks are getting more and more innovative these days, “butterfly biscuits” and “potato wheels” are childhood classics that Singaporeans can return to.
Fortunately, most snacks are still available in convenience stores and specialty stores, so we don’t have to rely on nostalgia.
One such specialty store is a third-generation domestic brand Cracker King.
Perfecting Singaporean snacks since 1955
KrackerKing is headed by 31-year-old Ku Yuequan, who is also the representative of the third generation of brand owners.
Yu Quan told Vulcan Post that his father passed away while he was in his first year at Nanyang Technological University. It was then that he decided to take over the Ko family business and became the family’s sole breadwinner.
The business was not doing well at the time. They struggled to keep up with competitive demands and KrackerKing was on the verge of closing.
With no prior experience, the then Business Analytics student had to learn everything from scratch and remake what was previously a food import company into a snack food manufacturer.
“Slowly, we liquidated our debts and began our journey to build our roots in Singapore, with the dream of branching out and becoming a global snack food brand,” said Yu Quan.
KrackerKing was first founded in 1955 by Yu Quan’s grandfather, who began making “love letters” and frying shrimp crackers at home, primarily selling them to the neighborhood.
The snacks were well received and in the 1960s, his grandfather began expanding his product range to include tapioca chips, peaches, and other types of snacks such as coconut biscuits.
They were an instant hit among the local community, and developed a strong following across the country.
When the demand started to grow, he decided to switch to a manufacturing facility. KrackerKing established itself in the region in the late 1970s as exports surged to Sabah and Sarawak, and later expanded to Batam and Brunei in the 1980s.
In the 1990s, when the country transformed itself from a manufacturing-based industry to engineering and technology, his grandfather decided to quit the manufacturing part of the business as they had difficulties relocating.
They also faced workforce problems and a drop in export sales as the Singapore dollar rose against the Malaysian ringgit.
The company began buying snacks from all over Asia, distributing them in Singapore instead.
Refining old traditions
Although the company stopped making snacks, Yu Quan’s grandfather’s recipes were well preserved, and he often made crackers for family and friends during festive periods.
But after Yu Quan was able to clear most of the old company’s debts, he decided to get into the food industry to share his grandfather’s recipe with the world.
According to Yu Quan, KrackerKing’s snacks are guided by traditional recipes and inspired by global tastes.
The snacks are made with fresh, locally sourced produce from farms across Southeast Asia. These raw ingredients are harvested just in time for production, to avoid pre-cooking anything just for stock-keeping purposes.
By logging the lowest possible storage time, KrackerKing ensures that its snacks reach customers crunchy, fresh, and delicious.
It also invests in technology that makes healthy snacks. A special part of the production process is de-oiling, during which the crackers are transferred to a centrifuge system for de-oiling after frying, and then rotated for 30 to 45 seconds.
This technology removes excess oil from the biscuits, creating healthy snacks for customers.
To become the leading supplier “keropok”
KrackerKing now supplies over 200 major retailers and distributors in Singapore, including supermarkets such as FairPrice, Sheng Shiong and Prime Supermarket.
However, the path to where it is today was not easy. Yu Quan said that there were many challenges when trying to create a brand identity in such a large market.
Although traditional snacks are very popular, Yu Quan feels that they have not gained enough appreciation over the past decades.
However, Yu Quan’s success comes in the form of “satisfied comments and good praise from customers”.
“It could be the taste of our food or the design of the packaging and the brand itself. We love to make people happy with our snacks.”
Which is why the brand is stepping up its efforts to engage younger audiences, aiming to become the ‘Asian snack food the world has to offer’.
Featured image credit: KrackerKing
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