Friday, October 17, 2008

Tam's Bakery

Note: This story I wrote based on the interview with Tony Chi, the owner of Tam's Bakery. It's interesting how his family stayed in Cotabato City and persevered in their business even when many other Chinese gave up and left. As a result, Tam's Bakery is Cotabato City's oldest bakery today. 

The late Chi Tham was born in Guangzhow, China but moved to the Philippines to work as an apprentice with Victoria Biskit Company. The stint with the cookie factory eventually motivated him to put up his own bakery in Cotabato City on October 6, 1946. He aptly named it Tam’s Bakery, after himself.

Sixty-two years have passed since then. Son Tony Chi, a Christian, continues running the family business in a predominantly Muslim community. Understandably his Muslim clients, Tony says, prefer that the pastries and bread they buy do not contain any pork fat. This is why when the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board, Inc. (MMHCBI) sent a letter in 2007 inviting Tam’s Bakery to get certified halal, Tony immediately complied. This was his chance to erase the doubts of his Muslim customers that the ingredients used by Tam’s Bakery are halal and permissible by the Holy Qu’ran and by food technologists.

Tony wasted no time giving MMHCBI all the government permits that it asked for as well as a list of all the ingredients used by Tam’s Bakery. This was how Tony discovered that the halal dough improver, the dough conditioner and the dough emulsifier – products of Malaysia – were already certified halal. Other ingredients which were not halal because they contained alcohol, for instance, were either removed or replaced with non-alcoholic ingredients. Upon the recommendation of the MMHCBI, a new stainless steel bakery table was made to replace the plastic bakery table. Another major improvement was the hiring of Muslim employees. Several months later, on September 12, 2007 Tam’s Bakery became the first business establishment to be certified halal by MMHCBI.

A direct result of being certified halal by the MMHCBI is today’s 15% increase in sales. Tony says that Muslim clients, who before did not buy at the bakery due to doubts that a non-Muslim is able to bake halal bread, have had a change of heart. Because of this renewed demand for bread and pastries by Muslim clients, some 15 bags of flour each weighing 25 kilos are used up daily by Tam’s Bakery. Business is so good that Tony did not have second thoughts about applying for another year of halal certification. He explains that it would be a pity if he would not renew halal certification now that Tam’s Bakery has painstakingly met all of MMHCBI’s requirements.

Already Tony is eyeing to move Tam’s Bakery to a bigger building where production volume can easily be increased to 100 bags of flour a day. The possibilities seem so promising that Tony aims to put up similar bakeries in other areas of Mindanao when the time is right.

1 comment:

Chickee said...

Thank you for featuring a story of our business in your blog

Hygeia Chi
daughter of TONY CHI