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Do you want bacon with that?
Source：Food Bev Asia
Date Published：2/8/2019 10:02:24 AM
ANYTHING unique and tasty is surely a recipe for success because consumers are always looking for something new.
By serving up an all-time favourite like bacon in different ways, Malaysian food company, Five & Two Foods scored points with customers. They infuse bacon into wine and spirits, and traditional Asian preparations such as Sambal, Dry Chilly Chinese condiments, Sichuan sauce and Burmese Balachaung. Their Candied Bacon Stix is a close rival to another very popular Asian treat, Bak Kwa.
FoodPacific Manufacturing Journal interviewed co-founder Georgina Fernandez, who together with husband John Peter, is the talent behind the delectable preparations.
Every business has a starting point, and for Five & Two Foods founders John Peter and Georgina Fernandez, it meant dropping full-time jobs to pursue a challenging path that led them to innovate on an all-time favourite, bacon.
What’s the story behind Five & Two Foods?
We began in 2013 out of passion for gourmet food. We resigned from our full-time careers that spanned 20 years, with John in education and myself in advertising, and jumped headlong into the exciting world of food. We wanted to be business owners of a product that truly excited us. No one was doing anything exciting with bacon besides frying it up for breakfast with eggs and toast, or at the most crumbling it into a salad. We wanted to show the world that you can do so much more with bacon than just that.
You’ve chosen an unusual company name. What does it stand for?
We are a Christian company. Our logo has its biblical roots in the miracle of the Five Loaves & Two Fish, a constant reminder that God always provides.
Our faith dictates our corporate mandate of honesty, transparency in our dealings and responsibility to our customers. We believe we have a higher, all-seeing power to answer to and that integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
Also, all our culinary offerings are free of added preservatives, MSG, artificial flavouring and artificial colouring and will always remain that way. All our products have been lab-tested for food safety, shelf life and nutritional information.
Tell us about the range of Bacon Jams.
With our Bacon Jams, we wanted to do something far more exciting with bacon and its incredible flavour profile. It is a versatile product that is in the form of a thick sauce that can be used as a spread, dip or cooking sauce.
We first came up with the Original Bacon Jam and then progressed into other delicious flavours such as Bacon Jam with Whisky, Bacon Jam with Stout, Bacon Jam with Wine, Bacon Jam with Dark Chocolate & Coffee, etc., and then the Asian Bacon range including Bacon Sambal, Angry Bacon, Firecracker Bacon, Sichuan Bacon, Naughty Bacon, which combine traditional Asian recipes with Bacon.
Five & Two is keen to work with partners to take its products to other markets. Its line-up of products, such as Bacon Jams, is free of preservatives, MSG, artificial flavouring and artificial colouring.
How did you think of pairing bacon with Asian dishes?
You could call it a stroke of culinary genius! Once we tried it, we realised we had a winner on our hands. It’s not so much pairing bacon with Asian dishes, as much as infusing bacon into traditional Asian preparations such as Sambal, Dry Chilly Chinese condiments, Sichuan sauce, and Burmese Balachaung. Bacon really is very versatile. It maintains its own flavour profile in every product, yet tastes different and unique in each preparation.
We can safely say that we are the only food company in the world that makes a range of Asian bacon products that are just waiting for an outlet to break into the international market. No one else offers the range that we do. And there are many more SKUs in the pipeline.
Bacon jams are meant as spread, dip and cooking sauce.
What was the experience like breaking into the market?
When you go against the grain and introduce new and unheard-of products into a market that is still largely quite traditional in its culinary habits, you are going to be swimming upstream. What you are doing is changing perceptions. Telling people that something they are used to in its traditional avatar can now be used in more creative ways. It is not something they can adapt to easily. It takes work, persuasion, and taste testing. It takes many weeks of groundwork to get them to accept what you are offering. It takes a lot of patience and strong belief in what you are doing and resist giving up.
Customers were not used to eating bacon out of a jar. We introduced the concept of Bacon Jam to Malaysia and to a certain extent, Singapore. It was met with much consternation until we decided to go down to the grass root level and let them taste it before buying it. We participated in many food bazaars. Hours and hours on our feet talking to and getting customers to taste the product and understand the concept only to have them fall in love with it at first bite. The challenge was getting them to take that first bite.
Finances were also a huge challenge. We used all of our savings to start Five & Two Foods and keep it afloat. It wasn’t a yearly challenge, it was a daily challenge. To keep it going in the face of economic downturns and societal taboos; to stand our ground and keep firm in our belief that we had a winning range; to stop ourselves from giving up and returning to the safety of a job and a steady monthly income.
Growth is also a financial challenge. New markets, bigger numbers mean more investment. It’s a bridge we are coming to.
Was the Candied Bacon Stix intentionally made to rival Bak Kwa?
No. That was not on our agenda at all. We just wanted to see how we could come up with a grilled version of bacon that would excite consumers, and it so happened that people liked it so much, it kind of replaced Bak Kwa for some customers who ordered in bulk for Chinese New Year. Subsequently a media interview dubbed it ‘better than Bak Kwa’ and it began to get really popular. Today some of our customers have switched to our Candied Bacon Stix in entirety for Chinese New Year. For us, that’s good news!
The Candied Bacon Stix range is increasingly becoming popular. It is even rivalling Bak Kwa as a Chinese New Year Favourite.
How are these prepared, and what flavours are currently available?
Our Candied Bacon Stix are high quality smoked streaky bacon strips that are marinated in our ‘secret spices’ and grilled fresh as per order. They are available in 4 flavours at the moment–Original, Brazilian Bahian, Guinness Stout BBQ and Sichuan, and come in 120g and 250g bags.
How would you recommend pairing the jams?
The Bacon Jams are very versatile. You can pretty much use it to conjure up many imaginative dishes. Pan grill a cheese sandwich with it, toss it in a pasta, make your own version of curry puffs with it, lace your salads with it, scramble eggs with it…the list is endless.
How are Candied Bacon Stix best enjoyed?
Straight out of the bag! Warm them up in the microwave for 20 seconds and enjoy them with a can of chilled beer or your favourite soda! We of course do some innovative things with the Candied Bacon Stix, such as make Candied Bacon Butterball Cookies as well as Candied Bacon Brownies and Caramel Bacon Popcorn.
Are all the products offered year-round?
Yes, all year round. With specials for festive seasons such as Christmas and Chinese New Year.
You say there are no artificial flavourings and preservatives on your products. What does that mean then in terms of shelf life?
Shelf life is currently six to eight months, refrigerated. This can be increased to one year without preservatives and refrigeration in a professional factory setting with specialised machinery.
What channels do you currently tap to market and sell?
Purely online. We rely completely on our online store, social media and word of mouth at the moment. Media features and coverage helps. We have received quite a bit of media attention for a small, self-made online gourmet store. We are sincerely grateful to them as well as our customers who spread the love of our food amongst their friends and family.
What can we expect from Five & Two Foods next?
We are looking at the global market quite excitedly. The world has become a much smaller place with travel getting more affordable. Our products have reached places as far flung as Norway! We find ourselves routinely delivering products to tourists from Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, China, USA and Europe. It is exciting to know that our products have been enjoyed and accepted in places that we have yet to set foot in and are hoping to interest international franchise manufacturers into obtaining a manufacturing license from us to produce and/or distribute our exciting range of products in their own country.
Some of the products we have innovated literally have no global competition, specifically the Asian Bacon line and the Candied Bacon Stix. We are constantly on the lookout for partners on a global level who can work with us to take these products to a much larger audience.