A TASTE OF SINGAPORE
Some brands come and go; others stick around long enough to earn a place in our kitchens and our hearts
Celebrating homegrown brands
What do Chee Seng sesame oil, Fong Yit kaya spread, Magnolia milk, Owl coffee and Ayam Brand products have in common? Besides being staples in many a Singaporean kitchen, these popular brands all boast a long and fruitful history. Most importantly, they are all proudly homegrown.
Most people associate Singaporean food with hawker dishes like char kway teow, carrot cake, Hokkien mee, and chicken rice. While these dishes are central to our food heritage, there are also the food brands that many of us grew up with and continue to love to this day.
Most of our local food brands have a long and rich history. Ayam Brand, for instance, was started by Alfred Clouet, a Frenchman living in Singapore, back in 1892. The brand’s logo was an “ayam”, which is the Malay word for rooster or chicken; over time, the product came to be known as Ayam Brand. In 1900, the brand won a gold medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris for its canning technology, which was advanced for its time.
Another brand, Chee Seng Oil Factory, was also considered advanced—it was the first sesame oil manufacturer in Singapore to use machinery for its production. Founder Lim Tai Tin originally specialised in coconut oil but switched to sesame in 1956. Today, the 74-year-old company makes several varieties of oil, including black sesame, and white sesame.
While some local food brands were built on cutting edge technology, others banked on tradition and nostalgia. Fong Yit Kaya, for example, is a 72-year-old company that won fans for its classic kaya recipe, which used rich coconut milk, fresh eggs and fragrant pandan leaves.
Then there are others like Long Beach Seafood, who revolutionised our dining scene in Singapore with its many innovative creations such as the now-signature black pepper crab.
THE MAKING OF AN ICONIC FOOD BRAND
Singapore’s oldest and most loved culinary brands were founded on the hard work, determination, business acumen and innovative spirit of pioneers and entrepreneurs. Over many decades, these heritage brands have continued to produce great-tasting, quality foods. They are synonymous with trust, value and excellence, and are committed to fulfilling the everevolving needs of the market.
In the following pages, find out how three made-in-Singapore brands became an indispensible part of our food heritage.