Bento bonanza: From RTE success to supermarket and hotel expansion for Chef-in-Box

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chef-in-Box World Chef Series Korean range by award-winning Chef Kim Dong Suk will be available at convenience stores and supermarkets in Singapore from July.
Chef-in-Box World Chef Series Korean range by award-winning Chef Kim Dong Suk will be available at convenience stores and supermarkets in Singapore from July.

Related tags: chef-in-box, Singapore, Supermarket

Chef-in-Box is building on its vending machine success in Singapore by striking deals for its extended range to be sold in supermarket chain NTUC Fairprice and convenience store Cheers.

The products will also be available in selected food service outlets and hotels.

On top of the Chef-in-Box World Chef series Thai and Indian selections, the firm will be launching its full range of Chef-in-Box World Chef Series Korean range by award-winning Chef Kim Dong Suk at convenience stores and supermarkets in Singapore from July 2018. 

Over 20 types of bentos with a price range of $4.80 to $6.80 can be found in NTUC and Cheers. 

Jocelyn Chng, founder of Chef-in-Box, who also manages JR Group – an RTE meal manufacturer told FoodNavigator-Asia​ that the reason to expand its sales channel, is to “provide wholesome meals to suit different types of lifestyles.”

There are plans to continue to widen the retail presence of Chef-in-Box bentos.

“We are still in the process of tying down the specifics,” ​she said.

Besides expanding its retail points, Chef-in-Box will also be sold to food services such as hotels and restaurants at the end of this month.

“When we launched Chef-in-Box, it was mainly for B2C… but, overtime, we realised that our B2B customers like our B2C items as well, for example the Korean food or the Thai food… There are also some who asked us if we can do food catering.”

Customisation of the bentos is also available for their B2B customers. 

“For example, if they want spicy food that’s spicier than what is available in Chef-in-Box, we can customise and make it proprietary for the individuals.”

KPI

Chng also shared the need for KPI – Knowledge, Passion and Inquisitiveness to sustain the food business through tough times.

“Today, it is all about data, about knowledge, about smartness, whether we can use the knowledge to churn into sales and bottom-line results.”

“We need to make our customers happy and we need to know what they need and want. And, yet, we cannot increase cost.”

“Our vending machines are the best data collector, because we will know the customer preferences.”

“If I know the top five or top 10 food, then I can focus on stocking up these products… This knowledge will help food service to be more efficient.”

Expansion

Chng previously signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a partner in Britain to take Chef-in-Box Vendcafe to London in August last year. 

“It is projected to proceed as scheduled in 2018,” ​she said.

She added that going international was always part of the company’s business strategy. The company is also in talks with some overseas firms.

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