Chocolate is a favorite of many people. Most of the familiar brands come from overseas, but have you ever thought that a Hong Kong person gets a share of this huge industry?
Multizen (Shanlong Foods), founded by Hong Kong resident Li Chengdong (Tommy), has set up factories in the mainland in the early years to produce chocolate for Hershey's, Godiva, Mars and other brands. The Nantong factory in Jiangsu can now produce 1 million chocolates a day!
In 2015, the company invested 100 million yuan to open a factory in Hong Kong to produce chocolate and bakery products, which have been successfully supplied to multiple brands and star-rated hotels. This year, it is expected to break even and make money next year.
Li Chengdong accepted an interview with "Hong Kong 01" and talked about the origins of the "return" and how to build demanding star hotels.
The factory is busy rushing to order moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, and then there will be a peak season for chocolate demand.
(Photo by Yu Junliang)
The process of entering Multizen's chocolate factory is not simple.
Reporters must first put on dust-free clothes, "from the head to the feet," and even the mesons, earrings and other personal accessories must be removed. After washing their hands, they must use a powerful hair dryer to blow away the dust on the body.
"Our factory uses ozone and ultraviolet disinfection every night, and the chocolate drops on the floor, so I can eat everything!" Li Chengdong quipped.
This factory covers an area of 20,000 square feet and is located in an industrial building in the Tsuen Wan Industrial Zone. It mainly produces chocolate. It also produces baked goods such as moon cakes, pineapple cakes, and cookies in the off-season.
"Different from the mainland, Hong Kong will only make chocolates for the skin (cost), because the market is small and the demand for chocolate is too seasonal. Once the Mid-Autumn Festival is over, it will be sold to the chocolate season all the way to Valentine's Day, and then again. After the Mid-Autumn Festival, Easter is not a big festival in Hong Kong, and the weather is very hot in summer."
Li Chengdong, the founder of Multizen, is very confident in the hygiene of his factory.
(Photo by Yu Junliang)
Brand customers who returned to Hong Kong to set up factories 6 years ago accounted for half of the business
Li Chengdong revealed that Multizen currently produces food for major brands, accounting for 50% of the turnover; hotels and restaurants account for 30%, and the remaining 20% are OEM production for supermarkets and retail stores. Cooperating brands, restaurants and stars There are more than 100 grade hotels.
Multizen has set up factories in the Mainland as early as 2000 to produce chocolates for major brands. The Nantong factory in Jiangsu can now produce 1 million chocolates a day, which is quite large.
Six years ago, the company decided to return to set up factories to do local business. Mainland "off-the-shelf" brand customers became the first customers. , But prefer "Made in Hong Kong", so it hits the spot, even if the price is higher, they are willing to order."
Later, it slowly expanded its territory to include star-rated hotels and restaurants. "In fact, our Marketing Team has only one person. It is not a high-profile business. The business mainly depends on word-of-mouth, one by one." However, major hotels have their own kitchens and dessert masters. Why do we need "foreign aid" again?
The reason is "do not cut", "a small amount of chocolate, the master can do it, but mass production is impossible, like Christmas, the hotel may offer a chocolate gift box, many customers order the same, each customer costs 500 It’s impossible for the teacher's doctoral department to do it! Another example is the buffet, where people can eat a lot of chocolate!" Li Chengdong said.
The expensive chocolate with a retail price of more than 20 yuan is in demand in Hong Kong.
(Photo by Yu Junliang)
Doing a good job of ``strike the board'' becomes the key to mass production
Compared with brand customers, the requirements of 5-star hotels are very high, from the taste of chocolate to the packaging of gift boxes.
Li Chengdong pointed out that excluding packaging workers, the company has more than 30 employees, and there are 6 colleagues in the R&D (Research and Development) department. They handle design, R&D and production, and provide one-stop services to meet the requirements of the hotel. "The first step is You have to go through the local quality department, and then the chef. It’s so "personalized". Hotel A and Hotel B are always different. It’s not possible to "harden" it with my local Catalog (product catalog). ……It takes several rounds of "tasting" to determine the "right taste". Sometimes, if you say "it's not the only taste", you just want to save it!
Therefore, in cooperation with the hotel, at least two or three changes should be made.
Li Chengdong continued to point out that in the hotel guest business, the taste of chocolate is of course the key, but it must also be mass-produced. "You can get a little bit of the "smallpox dragon and phoenix", but if you go to mass production, it will come out with the same quality. A customer? The benefits of automation must be scientific." He revealed that the process of "boarding" each time is very complicated. It is necessary to write down recipes and materials in detail. "Each board has a number and process. It's messy, because you never know how many times the customer wants the last product!"
In order to be more familiar with the operation of the factory, Multizen invited a retired Maxim’s teacher to sit here. "We couldn’t find a master at the beginning of the factory in Hong Kong. Later, we invited the retired Maxim’s master who used to work in a hotel. Now he is mainly responsible for taking in younger colleagues. , The development of new flavors of chocolate, or the combination of Chinese and Western food."
Multizen's "one-stop service" from R&D to packaging is one of its excellent tricks for customers.
(Photo by Yu Junliang)
High-grade chocolate has a market and semi-automated production
When Multizen came to Hong Kong to open a chocolate factory, it had already opened a 550,000-square-foot factory in Nantong. The machines there are 10 times larger than those in Hong Kong, and the speed is much faster. Most of them specialize in more popular chocolates such as Hershey's and Mars.
But the same formula cannot be "copy" to Hong Kong.
Li Chengdong explained that the Hong Kong market is relatively small. The purchase of large machines for "mass production" may not be cost-effective for the time being. Instead, there is more market for a premium chocolate with more than 20 yuan. "Hong Kong people are very willing to spend on expensive chocolate. In addition, the ingredients used in the factories are all purchased from abroad. The advantage of Hong Kong being a free port will make it easier for the raw materials to arrive everywhere.” In addition, the use of large-scale machines to make more advanced chocolate will waste a lot of raw materials. “Our raw materials are all. It is purchased from a foreign country, and it takes at least a few tons (raw materials) to start a large machine. Therefore, Hong Kong’s advantage is that it can place semi-automatic machines, even if it only uses tens of kilograms of raw materials, it can be turned on and manufactured."
One of the benefits of Multizen’s establishment of a factory in Tsuen Wan is that there is no need to worry about female packaging workers. “Tin Shui Wai has a large population but not many job opportunities. Cool air." Female workers are easy to hire, but they repeatedly hit the board when they were looking for talents. The biggest problem in Hong Kong was that the industry had been abandoned for a period of time and lost the inheritance of a generation of knowledge.
"Management, engineering, and production personnel are very difficult to hire. For example, how small is how to spread nuts evenly across a round chocolate? These seemingly simple but very hard-working procedures, Hong Kong does not have relevant technical personnel. For example, it is not easy to ask the "factory manager" and "line manager" to monitor the production process. Therefore, in the initial stage of the establishment of the factory, some employees from the Mainland should be transferred to Hong Kong to help."
Li Chengdong said that the Hong Kong market is relatively small, and the purchase of large machines for "mass production" may not be cost-effective.
(Photo by Yu Junliang)
Another problem is the machine.
Li Chengdong pointed out that the company's mainland plant has a mechanics team of about 20 people, but Hong Kong lacks it. "A broken machine or missing parts is a real headache!" Therefore, Hong Kong plants use "more expensive" machines, from Switzerland, Belgium waits for the entrance, "greed is nothing but easy to break."
Hope to acquire a Japanese factory in the "big siege" of the high, middle and low markets
Speaking of future development, Li Chengdong said that he plans to acquire a century-old chocolate shop in Japan. "I hope to expand the production line in Asia. Domestically, Hong Kong is responsible for the production of popular brands, Hong Kong is responsible for medium to high-end brands, and Japan is mainly for high-end food. It is like a triangle. I’m here to pick it up.”
He continued that Multizen sets up factories in Hong Kong and works with factories in the Mainland to help customers directly deliver food to the Mainland. "Nowadays, many five-star hotels in Hong Kong are developing in the Mainland. We can carry out customs clearance and other cumbersome procedures for them. In fact, "Made in Hong Kong" has an advantage in the Mainland, and the image is "trustworthy" and "not fake"!" He took the Mooncake order for the Mid-Autumn Festival just past as an example. The biggest customer was from the Greater Bay Area, and he said with a smile: "A few more such customers will make me a headache, because there are not enough places for (production)!"