Hup Seng, a timeless favorite

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Hup Seng Industries Bhd is likely one of the main cream cracker producers regionally. It’s a timeless favorite amongst Malaysians, having fed numerous households as it’s thought-about a staple meals.

Throughout instances of nice uncertainty corresponding to final 12 months’s Covid-19 pandemic, aside from tissue paper hoarding, Hup Seng crackers could be a type of on the prime of the record.

So after I noticed the current information reported by the South China Morning Submit that the Hong Kong Shopper Council (HKCC) had introduced that it was on the record of 60 samples of pre-packed biscuits and crackers examined which contained potential cancer-inducing components corresponding to glycidol or acrylamide, think about the shock I acquired.

Hup Seng was based in a store lot by 4 brothers from Batu Pahat, Johor in 1958 with a paltry sum of RM1,500. The Kerk household via bootstrapping began a standard biscuit and cracker manufacturing outfit to supply biscuits appropriate for every day consumption. To say that they had envisioned the enterprise would finally be a regional participant as it’s right now could be far too optimistic.

Beginning out from the Malay village of Parit Linau Kecil, which had solely about 100 households and 7 Chinese language households, they understood the significance of observing “halal” necessities from the get go.

Their profitable product is the acquainted “Cap Ping Pong” cream crackers. By 1977, it was Malaysia’s greatest cream crackers and was exported all through South-East Asia.

Hup Seng has grown over time via gradual growth and secure inroads into grocers, malls and marts whereas making its solution to the desk of most households. It was then listed on Bursa Malaysia in 2000.

The corporate has now moved on to the second technology with even the third technology coming onboard. It contributes to the livelihood of probably half the Batu Pahat townsfolk with an estimated 2,000 workers.

From a humble biscuit maker to nearly a billion-ringgit firm with exports to over 40 nations, it isn’t a small feat by any measure. With such information traversing mainstream information and social media, it’s onerous to not concern the impression towards the corporate’s long-standing popularity over the course of the previous 63 years.

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HKCC’s CEO, Gilly Wong, stated: “We consider that these sorts of contaminants are potential to keep away from as a result of in line with our findings, among the elements in these biscuits are palm oil,” To substantiate the declare, she additional stated this “palm oil refined at excessive temperatures carries potential carcinogenic dangers, in line with the European Meals Security Authority (EFSA).”

This assertion is problematic in itself. I’m no scientist or nutritionist however I want to know which edible oil refined at excessive temperatures don’t carry potential carcinogenic danger? Soy, corn, sunflower seed or olive oil? Any edible oil processed at above 200 °C would face the same danger, so why isolate palm oil alone? Is that this part of a bigger agenda in direction of palm oil as crop and trusted edible oil?

For a very long time, Hup Seng have taken pleasure on its product high quality and style with 90% of them inside the wholesome meals phase which is low in sugar, excessive in fiber and minimal synthetic elements or preservatives. Its product can also be handy and becoming for our nation’s consuming habits no matter race and creed. Govt Director Ms. Kerk Chian Tung throughout a 2019 radio interview stated she believed that Hup Seng merchandise speaks for itself with its high quality and style.

The late Dato Seri’ Kerk Choo Ting is likely one of the extra excessive profile of the 4 brothers who co-founded Hup Seng. He was the previous Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Business Minister and Member of Parliament for Taiping. Dato Seri’ Kerk highlighted that the corporate has a powerful historical past of overcoming enterprise challenges and monetary turbulence. Their grandfather who bought lands and invested in a plantation in Batu Pahat was not capable of service the money owed throughout the Nineteen Thirties Nice Despair, resulted in many of the lands being finally auctioned off. Then once more throughout the plunge of commodity costs between 1985 and 1987, Hup Seng nearly collapsed resulting from its debt burden. Monetary difficulties arose as the corporate was not capable of generate sufficient money to repay the loans taken to arrange a 2.02ha manufacturing unit in Tongkang Pecah, Johor. The household got here collectively and offered off private belongings to recapitalise the corporate. By 1997 Asian Monetary Disaster, Hup Seng was sitting on a RM 20 million money pile. This made the corporate realise the significance of money reserves and powerful stability sheet. Immediately, Hup Seng stays web money of RM 57 million as at thirtieth June 2021 and have constantly paid out dividend at 100% or extra of earnings yearly for the previous 5 monetary years. The dividend yield common at 6% each year for Hup Seng as per the desk.

I want to state that I have no idea the administration of Hup Seng personally. I do consider although on the significance of being goal in counting on findings quite than making wild allegations. Whereas we now have seen the opposite biscuit makers like Jacob’s, Mondelēz (Oreo) and Julie issuing stern statements to refute the matter, Hup Seng was slower to react. This may increasingly should do with the current passing of their founder Kuo Choo Track at 90 years of age. Therefore, I’ve taken the freedom to pen this piece resulting from my very own fond reminiscences of Hup Seng crackers, which jogged my memory of the easier days the place my grandmother would dip hers within the espresso and urging me to have a chunk together with her earlier than seeing me head off to highschool.

Moreover, my intent is to supply another view in direction of the questionable findings of HKCC which relied on EFSA claims, appear to be biased in direction of palm oil as an edible oil. If something, the information report confirmed me the primary similarity shared by the biscuits and cracker makers flagged by HKCC as utilizing palm oil within the course of of constructing. As well as, fairly a quantity are based mostly in Malaysia. I urge the authorities in Malaysia to probably conduct a G2G dialogue with their counterparts in Hong Kong to guard the popularity of domestically homegrown manufacturers in addition to our nation’s palm oil trade.

The identify Hup Seng, which suggests “unity is success”, mirrors how the corporate continued to thrive throughout difficult moments of its lengthy historical past, stated Dato’ Seri Kerk in 2015. At any time when there’s a problem, the administration learns from it. Whereas this time it isn’t monetary hardship, it’s nonetheless a rising concern particularly within the push in direction of ESG by advocates all over the world. This might be one other chapter of studying confronted by producers not solely within the FMCG sector however past. If Hup Seng can overcome this, it will likely be instrumental of their path in direction of changing into a world class biscuits producer.

Ng Zhu Hann is the creator of “As soon as Upon A Time In Bursa”. He’s a lawyer and former chief strategist of a Fortune 500 Corp. The views expressed listed below are his personal.



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