Kwong Heng Soy Sauce to Undergo Tech Transfer with Japanese Hamada

Little did we know that Angel Brand by Kwong Heng has been the primary focus of Heritage Foods when it comes to the acquisition of food brands. The brand acquisition had similar trait – all of them comes with a strong heritage, and has thus far invested in three Asian sauce and condiments brands – Hamada Shoyu of Japan, Woh Hup Food (Singapore) and Angel Brand (Malaysia) manufactured by Bidor Kwong Heng.

The celebration kicked off with a traditional Shinto blessing ceremony, which was witnessed by the Hamada family, key executives from Fung Group and Heritage Foods Group, Kumamoto government officials and media from around the Asian region.
Credits: The Star

Heritage Food has entered a new venture with Hamada Soyu and they were proud of the association with Hamada, a brand with a 200-year history and strong Japanese origins.

“We acquired Hamada just before the 2016 earthquake in Kumamoto. Unfortunately, we had to invest a significant amount in its restoration, but it was something we were happy to do,” he said.

“We think the time is right to assemble a company offering a variety of sauces and condiments, to bring out the different flavours of the Asian region,” said Fung Group chairman Dr Victor K. Fung.

“Our group has been in the consumer goods supply chain business for over 110 years, but focusing on non-food categories.

“Due in part to customer request to help them source for food products, we began looking into the food business in recent years. Our management felt a good place to enter market would be in Asian sauces, which we want to bring to all over Asia and the world.”

Fung said the timing was right as Heritage Foods felt people’s tastes worldwide have become more diversified and they are willing to try new things.

Hironari of Hamada Soyu at work stirring one of the giant barrels of soy sauce.
Credits: The Star

“Diversity in food taste is very important point, especially among the young consumers we want to appeal to,” he said.

“In terms of global sauce sales and distribution, Asia accounts for half the world market. The sector is growing at about 4% globally with China growing at double digits.”

Fung said Heritage Foods was building its food portfolio through selective acquisitions, focusing on companies with tradition and heritage.

“The companies we acquire offer something different that can be brought to the rest of the world. True heritage and uniqueness is important in today’s world,” he said.

“Everybody can claim they offer something different, but when you have history and heritage, nobody can duplicate that.”

Plans for halal market

“Over the last three years, we acquired three companies – Hamada, Woh Hup (82 years old) and Bidor Kwong Heng (74 years old),” revealed Heritage Foods (Hong Kong) Limited managing director Daniel Saw.

“Each brand has their unique products, some of which are distributed to more than 35 countries.

“We plan to bring all our heritage food products to the global market via Heritage Foods’ global distribution network and the network of Asian chefs and masterchefs whom we have strong relationships with.”

He said one of the conditions for Heritage Foods’ acquisitions is that the families that started the companies must remain, even if on a consultancy basis.

They assist us with the research and development and to evolve the products,” said Saw.

“It is all about what is in the brains when it comes to making sauces. Plus it sets a good example to others that we are willing to work with the families to continue their business.”

Saw said there were two research centres at Heritage Foods – Hamada for soy sauce, and Bidor Kwong Heng for chilli and spices.

Heritage Foods will soon introduce the flavours of Hamada soy sauce to the world via a technology transfer to Bidor Kwong Heng.

Bidor Kwong Heng in their yester years.
Credit Bidor Kwong Heng

Bidor Kwong Heng will have the official licence to produce premium halal Hamada soy sauce, which Saw said is suitable for the South-East Asian and Middle East markets.

“In fact, we have already started shipping Malaysian-made Hamada soy sauce to China,” he said.

“The soy sauce production here may be different compared to Japan, but the key elements – colour, aroma and taste – must be achieved.

“Hironari of Hamada himself visits the Malaysian factory for quality control checks and taste tests.”

Saw said Bidor Kwong Heng’s factory is halal-certified, FDA-certified and BRC-certified (according to US and European standards respectively).

“We also launched a halal range of sauces this year called Salam, which is manufactured for both local and international markets.

“We definitely want to go into the halal market and have a clear plan and brand strategy for that,” he said, adding that Malaysia’s location makes it the gold standard for the halal market.

“Everything we do is for long-term and sustainability. The challenge is to make Hamada, Angel and Woh Hup as well-known, household names, but we are confident of being able to drive the volume growth for the three sauce brands.”

Reference: “Heritage Foods Ltd acquires Bidor Kwong Heng”

Source: The Star