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This S’pore F&B group has an appetite to start a healthy meal subscription biz despite Covid-19

prepbox bonnie wong

Back in 2017, Vulcan Post featured homegrown F&B group Creative Eateries. It helms several popular restaurants across different cuisines, including Bangkok Jam, Siam Kitchen and Suki-Ya, among others.

Founded by Anthony Wong in 1992, Creative Eateries first started out with Hot Stones Steak and Seafood Restaurant.

While Wong still serves as CEO, his two daughters – Bonnie and Bernadette – have joined the family business.

Bonnie joined Creative Eateries in 2013, where she juggled multiple roles, including being a finance manager and marketing manager. Today, she helms the Group as the Chief Operating Officer (COO), overseeing the business in Singapore and regionally.

Beyond dining concepts, Creative Eateries has expanded to offer catering services and most recently, a healthy meal subscription service.

Covid-19 spurred the launch of this new service

prepbox
Image Credit: PrepBox

PrepBox is a meal prep brand managed by the Group, which was conceptualised during ‘circuit breaker’ last year.

During this period, Bonnie felt that there was a greater acceptance of food delivery and subscription options among consumers.

“While Covid-19 has changed many parts of our business, it also presents opportunities for us to do things differently as customers are now open to consuming differently. We thought there was no better time to launch PrepBox,” she said.

Moreover, the 32-year-old observed some emerging trends that could help propel the success of their meal subscription service.

Firstly, more people are concerned about their physical well-being and eating healthy. Secondly, consumers are increasingly open to ready-to-eat meals and delivery. Lastly, as more people are working from home, they are opting for fuss-free meals.

With more people working from home, we see an increased demand for meal subscriptions, especially when dining in was not allowed.

Many customers (also) shared with us that the PrepBox meals were perfect as they may not have time to cook for themselves and the family, and with these readily available meals in their fridge, it was one less thing they need to worry about.

– Bonnie Wong, COO of Creative Eateries

Tapping on Creative Eateries’ existing capabilities and central kitchen, PrepBox’s purpose was to help customers plan their meals without having to worry about nutrition and preparation.

Enjoy healthy meals without the prepping hassle

During the initial launch, PrepBox was designed for individuals who are simply looking for fuss-free, healthy meals.

We realised that despite customers having no active weight goal, they preferred greater flexibility and selection, while customers with specific health objectives were much stickier.

– Bonnie Wong, COO of Creative Eateries
prepbox
Image Credit: PrepBox

This is why PrepBox has come up with three different dietary options — Signature, Low-Calorie, and Keto-friendly — to cater to various weight and health goals.

Each meal averages between 430kcal and 550kcal with a balanced percentage allocated to macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat.

They worked with certified nutritionists to lower the calorie count for their Keto-friendly meals, and added a Low-Calorie menu specifically for individuals controlling their daily calorie intake.

The meals are sous-vided and slow cooked to retain nutrition and increase tenderness while keeping them flavourful.

Bonnie added that during the preparation and sealing process, their meals are also blast-chilled then vacuum-sealed. The oxygen is removed and replaced with non-reactive gasses to ensure the freshness of the meals.

They are then chilled before being delivered right to your doorstep all in one go over the weekend.

prepbox
Image Credit: PrepBox

Subscribers can pick their meals which include options for five, seven and 10 meals a week, starting from S$13 per box. They can plan their meals up to four weeks in advance with no commitment period, and a S$0 delivery fee.

The meals can be kept up to seven days from the date of delivery, so you can have the freedom to have it anytime during the week — you simply need to heat it up via microwave or steaming when you want to dig in.

The menus change weekly and offer a variety of different cuisines, featuring dishes from Baked Farmed Chicken Tikka Masala, Chilli Crab Seafood Udon, Baked Korean Gochujang Salmon to Balinese Grilled Chicken, Hungarian Beef Goulash and Thai Khra Pow, all in one week.

Challenges of starting up a new brand

Building awareness of a new brand is always challenging and much more so for an online brand with no physical presence. During the soft launch, we worked closely with groups of supporters from gyms that had expressed interest.

We worked on improving our operational process for a month before publicising the product. Today, we continue working with our gym and personal trainer partners to get the word out.

– Bonnie Wong, COO of Creative Eateries

Commenting on this partnership, Bonnie reasoned that weight loss is all about combining diet and exercise.

PrepBox can complement the exercise plans in order to help them achieve their desired fitness goals. Through this partnership, Creative Eateries also garnered data to have a better understanding of their clientele and tweaked the meals accordingly.

prepbox
Image Credit: PrepBox

Additionally, after the first week of subscription, Creative Eateries made it a point to reach out to their consumers to obtain feedback on what they like and the areas of improvement.

They received favourable responses, with many praising the deliciousness and convenience that their service provides.

In their next phase, Bonnie shared that they plan to launch a physical marketplace to provide even more flexibility for customers.

To date, PrepBox has over 300 members and sent over 1,300 meals islandwide over its first month of inception.

Thriving in the F&B landscape

Bonnie agrees that the F&B landscape in Singapore is very competitive. Regardless, it will continue to thrive although brand cycles will get shorter.

Brands will also have to introduce novel products to the market quicker with lesser resources. While it will continue to get more challenging, it remains a market we want a stake in.

We constantly need to think about how we can help each customer achieve their objectives while still streamlining the process on the backend.

– Bonnie Wong, COO of Creative Eateries

Sharing future business plans, PrepBox is looking to launch a marketplace that offers ready-to-cook meals as an add-on option for existing subscribers.

They are also looking to target a new group of clientele who are looking for a longer shelf-life of prepared items, or protein-heavy meals for bodybuilding next.


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Featured Image Credit: SMU / PrepBox

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