There appears to be an increase in Malaysian companies incorporating alcoholic beverages into desserts. The Alcoholic Baker and Chew My Booze bake alcoholic cookies, while The Ice Cream Bar and Licky Chan drink ice cream.
Recently, a new F&B brand has emerged with another boozy food product: jams. With variations like Rum N ‘Raisin Apple and Drunken Bacon which incorporate either stout (RM28) or whiskey (RM32), it is sold by a company born out of a pandemic, SpreadCheers, which launched on January 22 of this year. .
By an experimental home cook
The creator of SpreadCheers has operated an event management and marketing promotions agency with his sisters for 27 years. Having served several top companies in the area, Richard Soo had been exposed to various cuisines on business trips to meet his clients.
Despite this, the discovery of alcohol infused jams only happened during a family vacation in Tasmania, where Richard realized how much alcohol can enhance the flavors of jams.
A big fan of alcohol-infused foods, he began to buy jams by the dozen on his travels. Then came the pandemic that cut off flights and customers seeking event management services.
With more free time and already being an experimental home cook, Richard searched online for recipes to recreate alcoholic jams for his personal consumption. In the process, he came up with his own version using less sugar and more fruit with no additives.
Soon Richard discovered that there weren’t many players in the local market making alcoholic jams, let alone bacon jams.
By putting together a small budget to buy only what was needed to start production, Richard and his wife kept costs low by making their first batches with their existing liquor collection at home.
Affordable luxury for a meal
Although we have already spoken about another player selling bacon jams (albeit alcohol free), they made it clear that the product is no longer on offer today when we contacted. This was due to the economic downturn after the 1MDB scandal, where ingredient costs rose and customers weren’t as willing to spend on luxury goods.
When this was brought up during our interview, Richard was also aware of this matter. He said: “My wife reminded me that we bought 2 jars from their stall years ago, which we really appreciated.”
While we were able to find other vendors making bacon jam, SpreadCheers appears to be one of the few players currently making and selling alcoholic jams in Malaysia. At the time of writing, his Shopee store is even the first (and probably the only) on Google if you’re looking for “booze jam”.
Therefore, SpreadCheers has a large market share in Malaysia to make a name for itself in this niche market. This is where Richard can expand his marketing experience.
“Our goal now, especially as we’re still building our brand, is to reach a larger market and introduce them to new ways to enjoy jams and spreads. As such, we need to position our jams as an affordable luxury, especially in difficult times like this. “
To reduce overhead costs, all products are made in-house, at Richard’s house. The team also remembers emptied customer jars and packaging that are cleaned for reuse.
It’s not only a cost saving on SpreadCheers’ part, but Richard shared that customers appreciate these conservation efforts as well. This way, they are also able to reduce the amount of still usable bubble wrap and cardboard boxes going to landfills, which is a problem made worse by the increase in e-commerce catalyzed by the pandemic.
“All savings [from packaging] goes to sourcing and purchasing quality ingredients and alcohols. While our profit margins are not as high as we would like, they cover the cost of ingredients and operations with the sales volume achieved, ”Richard told Vulcan Post.
An obviously cheeky name
Customers won’t have to think too much to relate to how SpreadCheers got its name. Playing on semantics, the products sold are basically a “spread” while “cheers” refers to what you ring when drinking alcohol with friends.
The spreads aren’t just meant to be used on bread, but also to add joy to every meal, Richard said. Until now, he explained that customers have used the jams as a garnish for ice cream, waffles, roast meats and potatoes, as well as salad toppings.
Starting with alcohol infused fruit jams, the duo went on to add their Drunken Bacon with Irish stout or Suntory Whiskey to their product portfolio.
“The jams are cooked with the appropriate alcohol to imbue them with the flavors of the selected liqueur. It helps blend the flavors of the fruit with the alcohol, and it doesn’t overpower the taste of the fruit, ”Richard explained of SpreadCheers’ processes.
For some jams, more liquor is added after cooking to enhance the flavors. But the self-proclaimed jam maestro made sure to point out that alcohol should never dominate the palate. On the contrary, it should only enhance the flavors of the fruits.
Richard explained that the turning point for the business came after SpreadCheers began partnering with uncompetitive suppliers of complementary products. For example, their current offering sells the jams with scones and croissants at a promotional price.
“It adds value for customers, as we sell a solution (a complete meal) at a reduced price rather than just a product (part of a meal). In the past, we have had promotions on bagels, sausages, etc.
Made and sold based on orders, SpreadCheers currently sells over 300 jars per month, reaching customers across the country. Almost a year after starting the business, Richard and his wife are touched by the response from customers to this day, especially as both have little to no restaurant experience.
Even as Richard returns to his full-time job in event management, he is also learning to juggle and manage his time between the two companies. “It’s not easy but something that I would like to work on for the long term and I am ready to sacrifice the little free time I have to ensure its sustainability,” he said.
- You can read more about SpreadCheers here.
- You can read more about the restaurant related articles we wrote here.
Image Credit Featured: Richard Soo and his wife, Co-Founders of SpreadCheers
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