Keropok Lekor producer set to expand

National 2 minutes, 45 seconds

BELAIT

BELAIT’S only commercial producer of Keropok Lekor has recently managed to penetrate the local market with two major supermarkets now retailing its products and several others lining up to do so shortly.

Ferre Cakehouse, which created their first batch of the fish snack three years ago at their store in Kuala Belait’s Industrial Complex, are now mass producing 15 tonnes monthly to meet local demand.

“Giant were the first to pick up our product last year in April, followed by Sim Kim Huat during the second quarter of 2015,” said Ferre Cakehouse’s manager Robert Tan yesterday.

He said Eng Hong Supermarket will begin selling the product this month while agreements have been made with Soon Lee and Milimewah to retail it in the near future.

Tan is also taking a crack at the Sarawak market with five out of the 15 tonnes of Keropok Lekor now being sent to Miri and Kuching every month.

“Demand really began to take off last year after I tirelessly pushed for the product at every local and regional trade show and expo I could, in addition to selling the fried and frozen versions at our cakehouse,” he said.

Ferre’s Keropok Lekor uses ikan rumahan or the shortbodied mackerel as its base combined with flour and then seasoned to produce a snack best described as a fish sausage.

“I knew the_ Lekor _originated from Terengganu, Malaysia, so I spent three months there to study what fish should be used, how it should be processed and flavoured,” said Tan.

He said that ikan tamban or herring was a common choice for producers but believed it to be a poor choice for health, as the fish could not be de-boned efficiently by machines during the manufacturing process.

“The tamban’s bones are soft and small, so even with the deboning machine, they (bones) make their way into the base mixture, which many believe to be very bad for those with conditions like gout,” he said.

Tan sources his ikan rumahan from Tutong and Jerudong, buying in very large quantities to account for the fish’s seasonal movement which can lead to irregular supply.

“As we are expanding the business, it’s important for us to be consistent in how much we produce, based on what we have agreed to deliver. To do this, we buy whatever rumahan is available and then store it by freezing,” said the 49-year-old.

Tan said that his success also owes to the trust he has gained from his customers and retailers achieved through securing the necessary accreditation and nutritional analysis.

“When we (Ferre Cakehouse) first opened 16 years ago, we were one of the only bakeries in Belait with halal certification, and we have always maintained it by doing the necessary and proper procedures,” he said.

Each bag of _Keropok Lekor _has also gone through analysis by the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood to be able to carry a nutritional label which lists the total caloric value and the ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

“When I promote, I do so responsibly, which is by giving the customers the truth. When I say the Keropok Lekor (uncooked) as having no fat, it is there on the nutritional label itself, based on scientific analysis of the product,” he said.

The Brunei Times