Tow Kay Neo sells gourmet broths

Tow Kay Neo is a special collaboration between food blogger Maureen Ow, also known as Miss Tam Chiak, and Chef Cao Yong.

The duo first met while filming for a TV food show and decided to join forces to create a convenient meal option for consumers during the pandemic period, as more people began cooking at home.

The brand, established in June 2021, sells frozen gourmet broths and bundle kits online and has since gained popularity among home cooks who want to recreate restaurant-quality dishes at home.

COVID-19 opened doors to a business opportunity

The idea for Tow Kay Neo came about when Maureen originally wanted to start a business selling personalised meal kits under the brand.

The branding and packaging was all done already, but the pandemic hit a few months later, and it seems almost impossible to kickstart with all the logistics limitations.

– Maureen Ow, co-founder of Tow Kay Neo
Lobster pao fan / Image Credit: Tow Kay Neo

When the lockdown was lifted, she met Chef Cao Yong and had a taste of his signature lobster pao fan. He shared with her about his friend who owns a production factory, and they decided it would be a good idea to create frozen soup packs to sell since dining out was restricted back then.

tow kay neoPig stomach soup / Image Credit: Tow Kay Neo

They also came up with various meal kits using the broths. Some of the items that they offered included pig stomach soup (using their pork collagen broth) and lobster pao fan (using lobster broth).

One of the biggest differentiating factors for Tow Kay Neo is their bundle kits, which are specially designed by Chef Cao Yong. The team works closely with trusted suppliers to source fresh, high-quality ingredients for the bundle kits.

They continually innovated with new flavours and products

According to Maureen, cooking soup at home versus cooking soup in a production kitchen differs greatly. The team did several rounds of R&D before rolling out their first batch of soups, and they emphasised the importance of using high-quality ingredients to make the broths.

The most important is the quality of the ingredients we use, [which] sets the foundation of a good broth. Then we add seasonings before packing the soups through machinery. With every batch we produce, we take in feedback and make changes along the way. It’s never perfect, but we just keep trying. 

– Maureen Ow, co-founder of Tow Kay Neo
tow kay neo Lotus Leaf Rice with Sakura ShrimpChef Cao Yong’s creation, Lotus Leaf Rice with Sakura Shrimp / Image Credit: Tow Kay Neo

Beyond broths, Tow Kay Neo also carries a range of other products such as Lotus Leaf Rice with Sakura Shrimp, Braised Abalone in Scallop Sauce, and even Pineapple Tarts, which are all Chinese New Year exclusives.

With a dedication to provide the best meal options for their customers, Tow Kay Neo is always experimenting with new flavours and ideas.

After Chinese New Year, they are looking to launch new flavours such as Pork Cheese Soup Base, Sze Chuan Green Pepper Giant Grouper Soup Base, and Tomato Soup Base.

They have also produced a range of baby soups and are planning to work on new flavours right after this festive period. At the same time, Tow Kay Neo is currently conducting R&D on its chicken hotpot and curry chicken.

Competing in the saturated online space

Maureen was focused on launching the brand although she was due to give birth in two weeks’ time.

Despite the rush and pressure, she was determined to bring it to fruition and did everything — from taking photographs and making cooking videos, to setting up social media accounts and an e-commerce website — within the span of one week.

“We didn’t have any capital right from the start, the only thing I did was to register the company. We gave our recipes to our manufacturers to cook our soup and the next moment, we started selling,” said Maureen.

The response to the launch was overwhelming, as people were still cooking at home during Phase 2 of the pandemic.

However, as a new brand, Tow Kay Neo faced many challenges in raising brand awareness.

Online retail has become extremely competitive. The gaps are filled, the niches are plugged, and there’s a compelling brand catering for every market segment under the sun. To get noticed is difficult.

Furthermore, we do not have a retail space so we are not able to provide a rich experience for our customers. It’s work-in-progress honestly, but we have been actively doing Facebook Live to keep our audience engaged.

– Maureen Ow, co-founder of Tow Kay Neo

In addition, they created a user-friendly website and introduced customer loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases.

She added that the pandemic has actually served as a good business opportunity for Tow Kay Neo, as they witnessed improved sales during the time in which people were stuck at home.

Furthermore, the company sees a threefold increase in sales volume every Chinese New Year. The majority of their customers come from Instagram or referral.

tow kay neoImage Credit: Tow Kay Neo

Over the years, Tow Kay Neo has achieved many milestones and successes. In 2022, they partnered with Madam Partum to produce soups that are suitable for pregnant women. They also participated in events such as Food Expo and Redmart Foods & Goods Fair 2022.

Moving forward, Tow Kay Neo has plans to expand overseas and work with more businesses to supply them their frozen broths. Eventually, the company hopes to open a physical store to provide a better experience for their customers.

Featured Image Credit: Tow Kay Neo

Originally Appeared Here

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