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Going Global with Standards

Embracing internationally recognised standards has allowed Ha Li Fa to make inroads into new overseas markets.


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Published by Enterprise Singapore
on 01 Apr 2018

Going Global with Standards

It was not easy at first, with the increased paperwork and additional procedures that were required when Ha Li Fa first embarked on adopting internationally recognised standards. However, their hard work and perseverance has paid off and the company’s frozen products can now be found in eight countries and counting.

Ha Li Fa was founded in 1987 and incorporated in 1993 by brother-and-sister team, Mr Ang Yang Hua and Ms Jill Ang, whose fishmonger parents started off making fishballs to sell in their wet market stall.

Today, the company manufactures a wide range of chilled and frozen fish and poultry products, including fishballs, sotong balls, ngoh hiang, chicken sausages, hams, cheese balls and yong tau foo. Its customers are wet and dry markets, wholesalers and hawker centre stalls. The company also distributes its products through NTUC FairPrice under the BoBo brand, as well as Sheng Siong and Giant under its sister brand Ballgus. Additionally, it does contract manufacturing for Sheng Siong, Giant and NTUC FairPrice for their house brands.

Not content to just be a force to be reckoned with locally, they decided to adopt internationally recognised food safety standards in order to break into overseas markets. Having these standards are usually the first criteria overseas customers look for when evaluating them as a supplier.

Making the grade

In 2000, Ha Li Fa embarked on its ISO 22000 and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certifications, with the support of a grant from SPRING Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore1).

According to Mr Randall Ang, who oversees Ha Li Fa’s business development, the adoption of internationally recognised standards is important, because it is something that overseas customers can place their trust in.

“ISO 22000 and HACCP are common standards worldwide, so adopting them allows customers to have confidence in our products, even if they may not have been exposed to our brand. In addition, even if customers are not able to visit our factory in person, the ISO 22000 and HACCP certifications assure them of the high standard of our facilities and processes,” he says.

The ISO 22000 ensures food safety along the entire supply chain, while HACCP identifies and controls biological, chemical, and physical hazards in food production processes.

As various checking procedures had to be implemented to meet the ISO 22000 and HACCP standards, Ha Li Fa set aside dedicated resources to ensure that the process went on without any major hiccups.

“We formed a HACCP team with members from various departments to look into our process flow and critical control points,” shares Mr Randall. “As recording is a vital part of doing checks, there was an inevitable increase in paperwork. Over time, we grew accustomed to it.”

The Ha Li Fa management also made sure it educated its staff at all levels on the benefits of adopting the standards, and how it would make the company’s products more consistent. Staff were more convinced when they saw the improvements for themselves.

“Adopting standards have allowed us to learn about recognised manufacturing practices, and to reaffirm that our processes are on par with other international manufacturers,” says Mr Randall. “We were also able to penetrate sectors and markets that were previously not accessible as hotels, supermarkets and institutional catering industries required us to have certain certifications before we could do business with them.”

In addition to international standards, Ha Li Fa, whose products are either fish- or poultry-based, has obtained Singapore Halal Certification, issued by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. This has given the company access to a larger pool of customers and proven useful when doing business in predominately Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Dubai and the Middle East.

Keeping up standards

Today, Ha Li Fa’s frozen products are exported to Australia, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Dubai. It has been expanding its channels through its distributors in these countries, especially in China (Dalian, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou) for the past three years.

Currently, exports account for a small part of Ha Li Fa’s revenue. “We plan to grow this to 30% to 40% of total revenue by expanding into new markets, building on our BoBo brand and leveraging the standards we adopted,” says Mr Randall.

Ha Li Fa plans to continue monitoring developments in standards and is ready to adopt new, relevant standards to stay competitive. “Different standards have different requirements, and even if you meet the most stringent standard it doesn’t mean you will necessarily qualify for the rest,” shares Mr Randall adds. “For example, a European Union (EU) certification is necessary for manufacturers outside EU to supply into the EU.”

Adopting the right standards has certainly paid off for Ha Li Fa. “Standards will help improve your processes and open up more opportunities to new customers, especially with the possibility to go global, so it’s good to attain them.”

 

1SPRING Singapore merged with IE Singapore to form Enterprise Singapore on 1 April 2018.

Last Modified Date: 08 Jan 2020