How he revived his dying family biz to become S’pore’s ‘Kracker King’

Snacking is a favorite pastime of Singaporeans. For many, the traditional snacks they grew up with were the ones that hit the mark.

Even though snacks are more and more innovative these days, the iconic “butterfly crackers” and “potato wheels” are childhood classics that Singaporeans can fall back on.

Fortunately, most snacks are still available in stores and specialty stores, so we don’t have to depend on nostalgia.

One of these specialty stores is the local third-generation brand KrackerKing.

Perfecting Singaporean snacks since 1955

Image Credit: KrackerKing

At the helm of KrackerKing, Ko Yu Quan, 31, is also the representative of the third generation of owners of the brand.

Yu Quan told Vulcan Post that his father died while in his first year at Nanyang Technological University. It was then that he decided to take over the business of the Ko family because he became the sole breadwinner.

The business was not doing well at the time. They struggled to keep up with the demands of the competition and KrackerKing was on the verge of shutting down.

With no previous experience, the Business Analytics student at the time had to learn everything from scratch and turned what was previously a food import business into a snack manufacturing business.

“Slowly we cleared our debts and started our journey to establish our roots in Singapore, with the dream of branching out and becoming an international snack brand,” said Yu Quan.

traditional singapore snacks
Traditional snacks / Image credit: Carnival World

KrackerKing was founded in 1955 by Yu Quan’s grandfather, who started out making “love letters” and frying shrimp crackers at home, selling mainly to the neighborhood.

The snacks were well received and in the 1960s his grandfather began expanding his product line to tapioca chips, plums, and other types of snacks like coconut cookies.

They were an instant hit within the local community, and he developed a strong following across the country.

As the demand started to grow, he decided to move to a manufacturing facility. KrackerKing first established its presence in the region in the late 1970s when exports to Sabah and Sarawak soared, then expanded to Batam and Brunei in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, as the country transformed from a manufacturing industry to engineering and technology, his grandfather decided to liquidate the manufacturing part of the business because they were having difficulty relocating.

They also faced labor issues and declining export sales as the Singapore dollar strengthened against the Malaysian ringgit.

The company started sourcing snacks across Asia and distributed them in Singapore instead.

Refine the old tradition

Image Credit: KrackerKing

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 times.

But after Yu Quan managed to clear most of the old business debts, he decided to go into food making to share his grandfather’s recipe with the world.

According to Yu Quan, KrackerKing’s snacks are guided by traditional recipes and inspired by cosmopolitan palates.

Snacks are made with fresh, local produce sourced from farms across Southeast Asia. These raw materials are harvested just in time for production, to avoid pre-cooking anything just for storage.

By saving as little storage time as possible, KrackerKing ensures that its snacks reach customers crunchy, fresh and delicious.

It is also investing in technology that helps make healthier snacks. A special part of its production process is de-oiling, where crackers are transferred to a centrifugal de-oiling system after frying, and spun for 30-45 seconds.

This technique removes excess oil from crackers, creating healthier snacks for customers.

Become the first supplier of “keropok”

krackerking keropok
Image Credit: KrackerKing

KrackerKing now supplies over 200 major retailers and distributors in Singapore, including supermarkets like FairPrice, Sheng Shiong, and Prime Supermarket.

However, the road to getting to where it is today has not been easy. Yu Quan said that there have been many challenges when attempting to create a brand identity in such a large market.

Even though traditional snacks are popular, Yu Quan believes that they haven’t received enough recognition in recent decades.

However, Yu Quan’s success comes in the form of “satisfied comments and praise from customers.”

“It could be the taste of our food or the design of the packaging and the brand itself. We like to make people happy with our snacks, ”he said.

This is why the brand has stepped up its efforts to engage young audiences, as it aims to become “The Asian snack that the world nibbles on”.

Featured Image Credit: KrackerKing

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