27 Aug 2018
Cookie-maker Picks Health-conscious Hong Kong
Morris Cookies creates healthy snacks using organic flour, butter and sugar, and lets clients customise a product’s flavour using fruit, flowers, vegetables and herbs. Established last year after a five-year research and development (R&D) process, the company uses low-temperature baking, which prevents levels of chemicals such as acrylamide – considered a potential carcinogen – from rising. With products available to purchase via its website for customers in Asia, the European Union and Australasia, Morris Cookies aims to become a worldwide retailer next year. In anticipation of this growth, the start-up will work with factories in the Netherlands to produce its chemical-free treats, says founder Morris Ong.
What inspired you to set up Morris Cookies?
We are in the business of food, acting as an importer and distributor from 1997-2012 for snacks, biscuits and drinks from the EU and the United States in Malaysia. During this time, my mother passed away from breast cancer, and I saw relatives and friends suffer from the disease as well as my mum. We started looking at the food we distributed, and there were a lot of ingredients that we didn’t know about, so we researched them and discovered there are chemicals and additives added to these products. We discovered some additives react badly after contact with other nutrients in the body, so we decided to step into project development, with a vision to get more people to eat healthily. We went into baked goods because we found all bread shops selling their products without packaging can waiver the ingredients list. We contacted many baking ingredients suppliers and found that even the ingredients contained additives.
Have you noticed an uptick in business of late with more Hongkongers being health-conscious, or adopting a vegan diet and so on?
Yes, we have vegan cookies and desserts in our product line already, and our new products for 2019 are vegan, organic, low-carb, low-glycaemic-index and Fair Trade. We’ve named them Ladies Cookies.
Tell us about your plans to produce your goods in the EU
We are moving into the EU next year, first to the Netherlands, where we will work with factories that are currently making products in the same category as ours and can be produced according to our recipes and method; we will provide them with our raw materials. We’re planning to work with 10 factories within a year. By doing so, we can focus on our R&D to keep developing great products.
You believe in giving back. Tell us about your business model
Of sales, 15% are reserved for local community contributions. We don’t contribute money – we give away our cakes, cookies and desserts to encourage people to eat healthily.
How else do you give back to the community?
We organised a cookie class at The Hub, a charity that works with disadvantaged children, where we educated them on ingredients, so when they go to the supermarket, they can tell their parents what to buy. We also send them cookies and cakes. We have additionally worked with another charity, the School of Everyday Life, which links up with most primary and secondary schools and has a “Food for Good” education programme.
What are the advantages of being based in Hong Kong?
We tried to set up the business in Malaysia and Taiwan first, but settled in Hong Kong because it’s better for ingredient sourcing and has more of a health-conscious culture.
All your products are approved by SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, and contain no preservatives or unnatural food colourings. How did you achieve that?
We look deeply into every detail of ingredient sourcing – we’ve found that we have higher standards than the (US) Food and Drug Administration or World Health Organization when it comes to food safety standards. Our products have been tested against 457 pesticides and contain none. We see this as our responsibility; we don’t allow excuses when it comes to our products.
How will you grow Morris Cookies over the next 12 months?
We will be growing very fast with more than 1,000 products developed over the past five years. But of course it depends on [securing relationships with] some of the market’s big players, like Amazon’s Whole Foods Market in the US and United Kingdom. We’re also half way to working out a cross-branding partnership strategy with Hi-Life Taiwan, which has 1,000-plus outlets, after meeting with their top management. Our mission is to make everyone on this planet eat healthily.
Morris Cookies Asia