Words by Editorial Team
With support from the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), Swee Heng Bakery launched the HaloSingapo Series of heritage bakes featuring well-loved local flavours.
Breakfast buns, cakes and snacks are staples across Swee Heng Bakery’s 54 outlets spanning three concepts—Swee Heng Bakery, Swee Heng 1989 Classic and Swee Heng 1989 Bakery Cafe. In celebration of Singapore’s 54th birthday since independence and its bicentennial since 1819, they embarked on a special project to develop a new range of breads and cakes inspired by local flavours.
Named the HaloSingapo Series (from $1.80-$10), the bakes include items such as mak lemak, made up of a baked coconut flavoured bun topped with nasi lemak ingredients; cendol agogo, a chendol cheesecake; cik rendang, a chicken rendang soft bun topped with parmesan cheese; and golden times, a pandan and mango mousse dessert.
Done in collaboration with e2i, the project was six months in the making. E2i helped them to identify standards and benchmarks during the product development process and flagged possible courses that team members could be sent for in future projects. This is part of the e2i’s newly launched Baker 4.0 programme that seeks to equip bakers to face the fourth industrial age, where digitisation and smart technology are very much part of the production process.
Soon after the launch of HaloSingapo in June 2019, Eric Ng, executive director, Swee Heng Bakery shared some of his thoughts on the collaboration.
Why did you decide to embark on this project with e2i?
We were already looking into coming up with a Singapore-themed heritage series inspired by local flavours. Thus when E2I approached us, we were honoured and delighted to work with them. As E2i would help us go over the processes and recommend suitable upgrading courses for Swee Heng staff, we thought it would be a good opportunity to ascertain the areas that we needed to improve on.
What's the immediate impact of this project?
In the past, when we launched a product, we did not have proper timelines. We wanted to launch the new products as soon as possible. Sometimes it created havoc if there were communication barriers between departments, or if we had blind spots and missed out certain areas for testing. This project was different. From the R&D period to the actual launch, it took us six months to ensure that all products and departments were in order. Right now, most of the products are on track. It forces all departments to work with each other and come up with a proper timeline.
In the long run, how would this help Swee Heng's efforts to widen or improve its product lines?
Swee Heng is growing steadily and we are expanding our business. It is important to take this chance to standardise our protocols or we might face bigger challenges in future. With this project, some of our protocols have changed to better facilitate our future product launch etc. Some learning points are to send down the products to our outlets for testing instead, to do surveys to get consumer feedback, and to run trial tests before the actual launch. We have done a lot of trial tests to determine if our factory and central kitchen are able to handle the quantity. I can’t say we are perfect, but we are trying to make things right.
How you think this experience can provide learning points for other companies?
Right now, most of the SMEs are in firefighting mode where increasing revenue is vital. Swee Heng also faces the same plight. Therefore, standardising protocols and skills training might not be their first priority. But the foundation needs to be strong in order for the company to expand further and steadily. A good experience from this project is that while preparing for the new launch, we found out there are some loopholes while launching new products. The correct steps needs to be in place to prevent future disruptions.