We talk to Kent Wu, COO of JustKitchen, about the company’s all-encompassing method of business in the Asian food and beverage industry
Writer: Marcus Kääpä
During this challenging period caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the food and beverage industry has been turned upside-down.
Companies and businesses across the globe have slowed and even completely halted in a hibernating state to endure the unique and trying past year. Several businesses have also adapted to maximise their opportunities during this new way of working and living, such as turning to digital orders and home deliveries.
Despite COVID-19 negatively impacting countries for extended lengths of time, Taiwan has returned to a semi-normality fairly quickly. Because of the swift adherence to the notion of a national lockdown (that was a voluntary lockdown with restrictions on travel rather than government mandated), this smooth transition to combat the virus has limited the negative effects for Taiwan compared to many other countries that have, and still are, facing challenges.
In light of this, Taiwan has already reached a level of post-pandemic normality that spells promise for sectors across the nation. While many companies have had to shift and adapt to new methods of operation, JustKitchen has been able to provide its high quality and professional services to a multitude of customers.
“JustKitchen is essentially an operator with its own brands. We create our own in-house brands that appeal to a wide cross section of tastes and are able to deliver very high-quality meals through our network of kitchens,” explains Kent Wu, COO of the company.
Kent had always been tied to the e-commerce space and it was through friend and family ties that his career path made its way into the food and beverage industry. After spending six months as an advisor for JustKitchen, and being incredibly impressed with the business model, Kent invested in and joined the company in a permanent capacity.
“I really saw the value both to the consumer as well as to our own brands whether they were in-house or external,” Kent tells us. “The agile nature of the business model was really compelling; the way the digital met the real world to culminate in this virtual kitchen represented the future of F&B.”
When looking at the food and beverage industry, there are clear divides when it comes to the sourcing of food, the ordering of a meal, the prep and the delivery of it to the door of the customer. For each step of this process, businesses each play a vital yet separate role in the entire food delivery system.
JustKitchen changes this. For the company, the process involves JustKitchen being the root source of the prepping process, with the ingredients being sent to kitchens that prep and cook meals that come under the banner of the multiple company brands they operate (Just Chicken, Bit Beef Noodle, and Bodyfit Healthy Bento to name a few). Customers will then use the JustKitchen app to order meals before the company utilises a partner delivery provider to collect and deliver from the closest kitchen to the customer’s address.
Just over a year old, and with 17 brands under the JustKitchen name (four licensed and 13 in-house), the company exists as a home delivery cuisine service wrapped in one.
JustKitchen is constantly finding ways to engage its customer base and ensure the smoothest possible transition during the process. Kitchen-OS is one such development.
“This is what we’re really focusing on in our technology side of business,” Kent elaborates. “We want to have full back-end technology stack that supports and streamlines purchasing, supply chain, inventory management, accounting, point of sale, and all of these fundamental fields that are part of running a kitchen.
“To this end, we are providing a turnkey solution for both our own operators as well as our future franchisees. We can have full visibility of every one of our locations at any one point to help them with the technology. Using this, we can see each separate inventory and can replenish them individually. Through Kitchen-OS, we can also track shipments and oversee entire supply chain management operations.”
JustKitchen is building a unique and innovative brand in the food and beverage industry in Taiwan and beyond. Investing in the brand itself, through company aspects such as its tech stack and app development allows the brand to run hyper-efficiently and provide the best possible customer experience.
And when it comes to service, the supply chain plays an important part in the delivery of quality operations. As JustKitchen works with essential aspects of food and beverage service such as perishable goods, quality checks, and the sourcing of manufactured items such as food packaging, the fluid operation of the supply chain becomes an element of business that JustKitchen needs to ensure runs smoothly. Additionally, there is a keen focus on individual employee effort which is recognised by the company.
“We currently have approximately 200 employees and they do an exceptional job,” Kent tells us proudly. “We encourage them to do their best, and we work internally to ensure career progression where possible and take a proactive approach to company training to best develop our staff.
“JustKitchen empowers its employees by providing them help towards any path they wish to tread alongside the company, be that a change in business division, or specific training in another area. We help facilitate their individual growth as well as encouraging off-site training.
“Our culture surrounds our people, and we take the time to celebrate occasions like birthdays and company awards and maintain a social sphere through events such as happy hours on Fridays.”
Only in its second year, JustKitchen’s innovative operations and major plans for international expansion spell promise for the rest of 2021 and the years beyond. With an April 2021 listing on the Toronto Venture Exchange confirmed, it is worth keeping an eye on this growing company and its revolutionary business operation.