The chips are up: Singaporean start-up packing a punch with traditional dish flavours

By Lester Wan contact

- Last updated on GMT

F.East Hainanese Chicken Rice and Singapore Laksa potato chips can now be purchased from all Giant supermarkets, most 7-Eleven stores, selected NTUC Fairprice supermarkets, myCK department stores and Redmart.
F.East Hainanese Chicken Rice and Singapore Laksa potato chips can now be purchased from all Giant supermarkets, most 7-Eleven stores, selected NTUC Fairprice supermarkets, myCK department stores and Redmart.

Related tags: Snacks, Potato chips, Singapore, South east asia, Trends

A Singaporean start-up is finding favour with its locally-inspired potato chips — available in Hainanese Chicken Rice and Singapore Laksa flavours — now on the shelves in leading supermarkets.

F. East, short for Flavours of the East, first launched its local-flavoured potato chips at the end of last year. At the time, the husband and wife team of Lee Yue Jer and Kee Vern Cheng only sold their products from their temporary booth in the central business district, and online from Redmart.

However, they can now be purchased from all Giant hypermarkets and supermarkets, most 7-Eleven stores, selected NTUC Fairprice hypermarkets and supermarkets, myCK department stores, as well as Redmart.

Each 70g pack costs S$2.95. On Redmart, it is also sold by the carton (24 packs) for S$70.

Apart from Singapore, F.East has recently begun to export the Hainanese Chicken Rice and Singapore Laksa potato chips to Japan, its first export market. Export began in the middle of this year and Kee told us their potato chips should be on shelves from August.

There, the F.East potato chips are retailed at Plaza Style, a Japanese chain specialising in imported goods.

Inspired by Asian dishes

The F.East brand comes under the company the couple registered as Foodie Drools Pte Ltd. This gives a bit of insight into how the idea behind the products came about.

“I grew up loving chips, so I used to browse the chips section in supermarkets very often,” ​Kee, co-founder and director, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“Back then, we noticed that the various potato chip brands available on supermarket shelves carried similar flavours such as sea salt, sour cream and barbecue. These flavours tended to be Western-dominated as well, whereas Asian flavours were under-represented.”

Kee felt that Asians also loved their cuisine and it would be nice to “spread the love of Asian flavours or cuisines via a different means”​.

Furthermore, the couple felt that a lot of Asian flavours in the market were “single-note”​ flavours such as Tom Yum or salted egg. They wanted to introduce more complex flavours to snacks, inspired by rich, “full dishes”​.

F.East potato chips are produced in a factory in Malaysia.

New growth

While Kee revealed to us that they will soon be releasing other Asian flavours of potato chips, she declined to say what exactly they would be. She said new flavours can be expected from mid-September.

“We would like to introduce more flavours, as well as broaden our export markets, in which the distribution strategy would be similar to Singapore via supermarkets and convenience stores and online,” ​she added.

"We'd like to be in more Asian countries as they are likely to be more familiar with our flavours, but we're definitely not choosy of our export markets."

While the business is steadily growing, it is still run by the couple with part-time staff only when they man temporary booths or stalls.

“We are considering hiring staff for business development and marketing roles,”​ Kee told us.

Previously, we reported on Singaporean start-up The Kettle Gourmet having launched local-flavoured popcorn such as teh tarik​ (“pulled tea”), bak kwa​ (sweetened barbecued pork), as well as chicken rice and chilli crab.

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