“Pat Chun Sweetened Vinegar is especially fragrant!” At the mere mention of Pat Chun, this iconic line from the company’s TV advertisement naturally springs to the minds of many Hongkongers of all generations, who have no doubt tasted at least one of the company’s products in their meals. Now entering its 84th year, the famous sauce manufacturer is now led by Dr Trevor Ng, the grandson of Ng Wai Sum, who founded Pat Chun by setting up his first grocery store in Mong Kok.
Never compromise on quality
Over the years, Pat Chun has successfully developed over 80 products, ranging from its traditional specialty vinegar products to brewed oriental sauces to festive and seasonal food such as moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival. While continuing to develop new products, the family adheres to one fundamental value.
“Quality is everything. We never compromise on quality in fulfilling our mission of delivering the very best. If you take a look at the recent study on soy sauce done by the Hong Kong Consumer Council, our product speaks for itself,” Ng said confidently while showing us the report. Pat Chun’s Soy Sauce Supreme, is not only ranked grade A, but also the only one without artificial additives, preservatives or MSG among the 40 soy sauce samples examined. “You can always take a shortcut, such as by adding caramel colorings to soy sauce during the browning process. However, ours are naturally brewed and the whole process takes up to 18 months, but the result is gratifying with a guaranteed quality — after all, soy sauce is an everyday necessity in Chinese society and we want to spoil our customers with consistently good quality and affordable prices,” said Ng.
Proudly made in Hong Kong
“I do believe that being a Hong Kong brand has its advantage,” said Ng. While the company has a facility in Dongguan, Guangdong, that is mainly for logistics and transportation, Ng explained that all their products, including its signature Pat Chun Sweetened Vinegar, are manufactured in their brewery facility in Hong Kong. With business continuing to flourish, the factory was recently relocated to a larger site in Tseung Kwan O to increase production capacity. Ng credited his father – Ng Kam Hong, who devoted almost 20 years to Pat Chun, as the main driver behind the renovation of the factory.
“My father invested a lot in state-of-the-art technology in order to combine them with our traditional brewing methods to bring out the best in our generations-old recipes.”
The scent of vinegar has “perfumed” the factory, and taking a tour there makes one feel as if you have travelled through a time machine. After visiting the modernized plant, we were led to a rooftop, where soy sauce is naturally fermented in large, covered ceramic urns just like the old times.
“This traditional brewing method is vanishing nowadays due to its complexity, such as taking into consideration weather changes. We need to patiently and constantly monitor the whole process to make sure the sauce is brewed with a superior flavor from the natural ingredients, ” said Ng.
While the octogenarian family brand has gladly overcome many challenges over the years, Ng still spends most of his time working to perfect the flavors of the products, “We are still learning and improving everyday.”
Word of mouth
In the face of market uncertainties, it is always a challenge for a business to stay competitive and leading edge. “Technology is undoubtedly shaking up the way we do business, so to address that we are making good use of social media to create an informative platform with up-to-date information on our products, and at the same time improving our online buying and delivery service,” said Ng.
When it comes to keeping track of market trends, it is essential to constantly challenge convention to keep ideas flowing and attract new customers.
“For instance, one of our bestsellers, Pork Knuckles & Ginger Stew, which is a traditional post natal health food for women after childbirth, is now available in small size portions for two for easy and healthy enjoyment,” said Ng. While Pat Chun products are available worldwide, strong emphasis is put on specialty stores in both Hong Kong and Singapore.
“There is a lot of know-how in our products, which is why we want to let our customers know about our efforts in achieving premium quality. Thus, equipping our staff with sufficient product knowledge enables them to serve our customers well and so bit by bit, we have earned the trust of many customers and become a well-known brand in our industry,” added Ng.
As the old Chinese saying goes, “Firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar and tea are the seven necessities to begin a day.” While Pat Chun has been proudly providing households around the world with two of those necessities for over eighty years, “quality” is its consistent focus.
“We are always striving to be the best in the industry,”Ng said firmly. While a good “sauce”needs no bush, it does require a lot of persistence, perseverance and passion to achieve a tiny drop of deliciousness.
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