A South Yorkshire food manufacturer, launched 30 years ago to bring the authentic taste of Chinese food to British ready meals, is galloping into the ‘Year of the Horse.
Doncaster-based King Asia Foods supplies freezer centres and the food service sector with a range of both frozen and ambient dishes, sauces and desserts.
Run by brothers So and Kin Him Fong, the company has grown from nothing into an £8 million-plus business, with 180 employees, that trades direct with both China and India, exports to Europe and also acts as a contract packing business for other food firms.
The Doncaster Carr firm is now probably the biggest company in its field.
Most competitors are small, cottage industry operators and the one closest to its size supplies one single supermarket chain – a field King Asia prefers to avoid.
Most recently, the company developed a One Pot range of microwaveable complete meals in a single pot, for the discount food market.
While So Him Fong has a degree in building and also runs a property investment and development company, his brother Kin’s degree is in business studies.
However, both grew up in the food business, their father having built up a restaurant and takeaway business after coming to the UK from Hong Kong.
“We saw a niche in the market at a time when products that were being sold as Chinese ready meals weren’t really Chinese food and didn’t reflect the food that was in Chinese takeaways at the time,” says So Fong.
“The business grew because of the demand for our products. We started out supplying freezer centres and moved into food service because we didn’t want all our eggs in one basket.
“We consciously decided to invest time and energy in developing the food service side, which now accounts for 30 per cent of our business.”
King Asia Foods supplies food service customers ranging from airport First and Business Class lounges to prisons, with pub restaurants, contract caterers, universities, the NHS and schools in between.
The move into the food service sector, with its requirements for changing menus, has helped to drive innovation at the company, which has its own development team and has branched out from oriental to Indian food, and even chilli and pasta dishes, while developing its One Pot range.