There are two reasons why Maribel Bosch and her family kept going back to The Netherlands. First, her husband is Dutch and grew up there, and second, they couldn’t get enough of fried breaded food rolls called kroket.
“It’s a very popular Dutch snack,” says Bosch. The Dutch kroket can be bought on the streets, even from vending machines.
As early as 2000, she thought of bringing the concept here but decided to put it on hold because she wanted to spend more time with her kids.
“I started really thinking about it again in 2010,” she says, because by that time her kids were already teenagers. “When they gave me the go signal, we (Bosch and her business partners) started to work on it.”
The greatest challenge for Bosch’s business, now known as Kroketten (plural for kroket), was introducing the product to Filipinos. As advised by Francorp, the company’s franchise consultant, Bosch and her team first introduced the concept in bazaars.
It was first sighted at the Brent International Food Fest in February 2011. The kroket with beef flavor, the only variety they had, was an instant hit. They also sold Vers en Snel (Dutch for fresh and fast), juice made of fresh purees, brown sugar, and mineral water. They then offered the same products at a food expo in Pasay City. “Because the attendees were mostly students, we were a big hit at P65 a serving.”
Later they joined the bazaar at Quezon City’s Don Antonio Heights, which is frequented by middle to upper class families. Here they introduced a round variety called kroketballen. “They also loved it and they were asking to franchise.” Bosch observed, however, that people would have bought more if it were cheaper. That’s why at a bazaar at the NBC Tent in Taguig City a few weeks after, they lowered the price of their products to P45 and introduced miniballen for sharing. “We understood right away that we have to make our products affordable to the masses because that’s the only way to go,” she says.
Good food from a cart
Thanks to their bazaar experience, Bosch and her team agreed to peg the price at P35 for nine pieces of miniballens. Kroketten and miniballens also come in Filipino flavors, using recipes created by Bosch with her sister (a food technician), a chef, and her best friend. They incorporated longganisa, tuyo flakes, pork adobo, and mangoes to the original recipe. They also had dips like garlic mayo, honey mustard, rouille (a sauce made from olive oil), spiced tomato, and wasabi mayo.
“We had very good feedback for the first outlet,” which opened in April 2011 in Alabang Muntinlupa. “But since the product is new to Filipinos, we really had to do a lot of explaining, free tasting, and all these challenges of introducing a new product in the market,” says Bosch. Kroketten was launched as a franchise in September 2011 during the Franchise Asia Expo.
By the end of 2012, Bosch had eight franchisees who helped her expand the business to 11 outlets in different locations all over the metro. Beyond Kroketten’s novelty, it is its quality offerings that she hopes people would remember the brand by. “Filipinos deserve good products of good quality even at a cheaper price. It’s about time for Filipinos who don’t get to travel to try food other than what they’re already familiar with. Filipinos are ready for it.”
This article was originally published in the September 2012 issue of Entrepreneur magazine and was recently updated by the online editor. Subscribe to the print or digital version here.
Images from Kroketten's FB page.
Second photo shows Kroketten owner Maribel Bosch with teen celebrity and TV host Bea Binene, taken when the business was featured in GMA News TV show 'The Good News.'