Derrick Chiongbian

There are now over 100 Holy Kettle Corn retail booths nationwide today, and here are no signs that this prodigious growth would be stopping anytime soon. Its many distinctive product features and its entirely different marketing and distribution approach have no doubt, brought about the phenomenal success of Holy Kettle Corn popcorn. The product has a unique “kettle corn flavor” that delightfully hover between sweet and salty. Hand-popped fresh every day right in the retail outlet itself, it uses only corn oil instead of ordinary vegetable oil.

Holy Kettle Corn is the hobbyhorse of Derrick Chiongbian, a businessman who, after first tasting kettle corn popcorn in the United States, became so addicted to the product that he thereafter ate a whole bag of it every day for weeks. A sequential entrepreneur who is always on the lookout for business opportunities, Chiongbian thought that kettle corn popcorn would sell well in the Philippines for two reasons: its flavor would be a novelty, and the product was something that all income segments could afford. Thus, in May 2004, he invited a friend, to be his partner in producing kettle corn popcorn for the Philippine market.

After doing painstaking research on the product, Chiongbian was able to close a deal with a farmer in Nebraska to exclusively supply him with corn kernels that expand the most when popped. He was also able to find a supplier of a special China-made plastic-lined bag for his cooked popcorn; the bag costs five times more than the regular popcorn bag but keeps popcorn fresh and crunchy for up to three days when left unopened.

To tap the ever-increasing market of health-conscious snackers, he positioned his product as a healthier alternative chips. He deliberately avoided putting up his booths near cinemas, choosing instead locations with high foot-traffic such as schools, gasoline stations, and malls. And Derrick wanted to let people know that popcorn is something you can eat anytime, not just when you’re watching a movie.

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