Kelong uses Facebook to woo customers


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Behind the Pasir Ris wholesale fish farm, 10 minutes by boat from the Lorong Halus Jetty, are two unlikely fish farm entrepreneurs: Wong Jing Kai and Bryan Ang.

The 25-year-olds were from the digital marketing and sea transport industries respectively, but have since taken to their new roles, literally, like fish to water.

The Web-savvy duo partnered with Teh Aik Hua or Ah Hua, who has owned the kelong since 2008, to take the business to another level by tapping social media platforms such as Facebook - their page had 20,318 likes at last count.

Ah Hua Kelong has been supplying fish to hotels and restaurants for some time. But since April, Mr Wong and Mr Ang have expanded its clientele to include home consumers in order to meet the 30 tonnes per annum quota set by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, so that the kelong can continue its operations.

While the kelong does not have a wide variety of fish, what it offers is freshness as the seafood is processed on the same day it is delivered - all within 12 hours.

To heighten that farm-to-table aspect, the entire process - from harvesting the fish to packing them in boxes, right until arrival at a customer's doorstep - is recorded via smartphone. The pictures are then posted online.

The kelong's seafood includes fish like black grouper, seabass, golden pomfret (which has a similar texture and taste as barramundi), and a hybrid of tiger grouper and giant grouper ($20 for 600g). It also has plump green lip mussels and the occasional flower crabs, which are caught in the north of Singapore.

The feed is also an important factor as to why the kelong's produce costs a bit more than supermarkets' offerings. It uses top-grade feed consisting of ikan bilis and high quality fish bait. There is also the expensive task of cleaning out the barnacles from the sea cage to prevent food from accumulating. "What we need is ventilation, otherwise the feed will rot at the bottom of the sea cage and give the fish a muddy taste," explained Mr Ang.

As Mr Wong showed off pictures of cooked fish that his satisfied customers recently sent him, he said, "We don't want to be fly by night. We want to give personalised service and teach customers how to handle and cook the fish well."

This article was first published on October 18, 2014. Get The Business Times for more stories.