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[Consumer products / Hong Kong] Bee Chang Hiang
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Bee Chang Hiang

Better Than Jerky

Barbecued meat manufacturer and retailer Bee Chang Hiang has won over the hearts - and stomachs - of Koreans in just a couple of years

In its nearly 20 years in Hong Kong, Bee Cheng Hiang has opened 18 outlets. In its two and a half years in Korea, it has opened 21.

The explanation?

Koreans like their barbecued pork.

With outlets everywhere from Myeongdong and Gangnam to Busan, and in all of Korea’s major department stores, Bee Cheng Hiang sells barbecued pork, beef and chicken that is called “bakkwa” in Chinese dialect. But for anyone tempted to call the products “jerky,” Richard Wong Teng San, Managing Director of the Singapore-based Bee Cheng Hiang, points out a crucial difference: His bakkwa is fresh barbecue.

Bee Cheng Hiang’s barbecued meats go through a two-step process. Raw meat is processed in a factory until it is cooked. It is then delivered to retail outlets, where it is barbecued on the spot.

“Jerky is 100 percent dried in the factory and then they pre-pack, then display it in the supermarket,” said San. “It’s a totally different concept.”

Koreans took to this new concept overseas, while visiting countries where Bee Cheng Hiang is popular, including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. Koreans not only liked the product, they asked about franchise opportunities.

“So the Korean market drew our management’s attention,” San said.

Chop Hup Chong (CHC) Food Industries, the company for which Bee Cheng Hiang is the house brand, began operations in Korea in the summer of 2010 with a factory in Shiwha Gongdan, in the city of Siheung. Within a year, the factory’s production capacity proved too small for the market demand. So San and his staff moved to a bigger factory nearby last October.

Bee Cheng Hiang produces 240 metric tons of barbecued meat in Korea a year using all local products. Annual retail sales domestically in 2012 reached USD 8 million. San attributes his company’s growth in Korea not only to a love of barbecued products, but strong buying power resulting from high living standards.

“We are very very happy we can achieve this production in two and a half years,” he said. “In other region, we haven’t experienced [growth] so fast.”

While foreign companies in Korea are known to cater their products or services to the domestic market, Bee Cheng Hiang sticks to how they do things in their 260 other Asian outlets, save for the occasionally offered kimchi-flavored barbecued pork. In fact, San and his staff of 75 are trying to get Korean consumers interested in another product popular in Bee Cheng Hiang’s overseas outlets ? floss, or snack products made out of pork, chicken or fish.

But when it comes to production method, Bee Cheng Hiang has adjusted its process to be efficient in all of Korea’s seasons. In Singapore’s climate, the company’s ovens performed consistently year-round. In Korea, winters proved to make them less efficient. San’s staff resolved this problem by redesigning their ovens and took the redesigns back to Singapore for more energy-efficient operations there as well.

“So we learned a lot from Korea,” said San.

Bee Cheng Hiang aims now to expand beyond retail sales in Korea and distribute barbecued meat and floss directly to restaurants, hotels and other establishments. Considering the high quality of Korea’s pork, the company also aims to start exporting bakkwa from Korea to Hong Kong, Japan and other countries, the managing director said.

“[With] the Korean image now, the quality is very high,” San said. “So if we can export from Korea, this can put up our image, our company brand. I think this is very important for us.”

By Chang Young (

did you know?
ㆍBee Chang Hiang was started in Singapore in 1933 by a man selling barbecued meat from a mobile stall on the street.
ㆍFloss, one of Bee Cheng Hiang’s products, is said to taste good in porridge or gimbap (rice and vegetables wrapped in seaweed).
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