Hong Kong has a healthy fruit market with a wide range of products, from blueberries to durian, much in demand.
Knowing that the city was full of fructivores, the co-founders of London-based Kooky decided to begin marketing their range of exotic dried fruits in the city with hopes to expand further in the region.
Realising that food distribution is a boots-on-the-ground business, Kooky needed a partner in Hong Kong and turned to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in September last year, which linked the firm up with quality food supplier Alarcon Enterprise.
“I believe that selecting the right importer is essential for the success of a brand abroad,” Co-Founder Aline Burgmann said. “I, therefore, approached my friend Joey Ko from HKTDC London and asked for advice. She kindly introduced me to Teresa Chiu, Founder of Alarcon Enterprise. After a few initial conversations with Ms Chiu, I knew I found my HK distributor and I have been learning a lot from her experience in the Hong Kong food and drink industry since we started working together.”
Ms Burgmann noted that the market in Hong Kong was very different to the one in London, as exotic, tropical fruits are grown in and near Hong Kong.
This is not the case in London. It was important to work with a trusted importer who knew the local market much better than she did, a win-win strategy for both. The Alarcon team had selected a new range of flavours – freeze dried banana, pineapple and durian – themselves.
She hoped to take the packaged dried fruit products to other countries in the region and is currently exploring another giant Asian market, India, with a careful step-by-step approach, wary of “biting off more than I can chew”.
Alarcon markets Kooky through a wide range of channels, including VIP Club, corporate accounts, supermarkets, pop-ups and online stores, such as HKTV Mall, setting a solid base for market development. The Hong Kong distributor saw a great deal of potential in expanding the brand across Asia and would like to help Kooky do so, and was focusing on the Hong Kong market for now.
Kooky sources much of its fruit close to Hong Kong – in leading Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member Thailand.
“I am from Thailand. Therefore, it was natural for me to start sourcing our Kooky fruit from there. The country is ranked among the largest exporters worldwide of agricultural products,” Ms Burgman said.
The proximity to Hong Kong meant shipping from Thailand took less than a week, and the short distance made the process more sustainable.
Kooky emphasises ESG standards and is a certified Benefit Corporation (B Corp), buying from sustainable farms and selecting supply chain partners carefully.
Ms Burgmann set up Kooky with Co-Founder Deena Tan, whom she met through their daughters’ school in the United Kingdom. Fond of mangosteens, full of vitamins and minerals, led her to concentrate on tropical fruits and promote the ones less known to consumers in dried form.
She wanted a modern, Asian look to the packaging and logo and selected a tiger as the mascot.“The animal symbolises strength, courage and daring, which I thought combines very well with the word ‘kooky’ defined in the Cambridge dictionary as strange in his or her appearance or behaviour, especially in a way that is interesting. Our branding enhances Kooky’s origins, and I hope that our customers can embrace it.”