Cooking on gas: Singapore lingzhi firm enters China via petrol station online site

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The lingzhi mushroom is also known as the Reishi mushroom in Japanese.  ©Getty Images
The lingzhi mushroom is also known as the Reishi mushroom in Japanese. ©Getty Images

Related tags HQ Gano Singapore lingzhi

Listing products on cross-border e-commerce marketplaces is a common way that overseas firms use to enter the China market, but one Singapore firm is also exploring a novel way of cracking the country - such as working with a major petrol station company.

Last year, Singapore start-up HQ Gano, which specialises in Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum​), set foot on the Chinese market by selling its product on Easy Joy, the cross-border e-commerce platform of Sinopec – Beijing-headquartered petroleum and chemical corporation.

“We entered into China a few months ago and are selling through one of Sinopec’s platforms, a move initiated by Enterprise Singapore (ESG).

“They [Sinopec] have 20 million of customer base and we are tapping on their online platform for people to buy or redeem our Lingzhi product using their Sinopec points.

“They are testing the market [for our product], but we are also exploring the China market via other ways, such as distributing our product via the free trade zones,” ​chairman Richard Lim said.

The firm also sells its product, HQ Lingzhi capsules – priced at over RMB$300 (US$43) for a box of 30 capsules – via its circle of friends in China.

HQ gano lingzhi
HQ Gano's lingzhi supplement. ©HQ Lingzhi Singapore Facebook

Encapsulated in Singapore, the company is confident that the Singapore brand will resonate well with consumers from China.

“The Chinese consumers would rather buy products made overseas than locally since they are concerned about the products’ authenticity and so we capitalise on our Singapore brand, and so far, we are selling quite well in China.”

Set up in 2019 by Lim and managing director Christopher Yeo who were previously from the marine and pharmaceutical sector previously, HQ Gano also sells its one and only SKU locally in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam.

Ready to explore more markets

While the firm sources its Lingzhi from its own farm located in Đồng Nai – a province two hours away from Ho Chi Minh, it is also sourcing from other countries such as China and Japan to cope with the increased demand.

“Since we are based in Singapore, we use the local market as a testbed and over the last two years, we have seen very encouraging results.

“We are growing by double the volume versus the year when we first started and we felt that we are ready to explore business opportunities overseas,” ​said Yeo.

In fact, the firm is setting its sights on markets outside of Asia as well, such as Europe and the Middle East where it attended​ the recent Arab Health Expo.

“With the opening up of new markets, we are very confident and encouraged that we will probably be doing a lot better than expectations,” ​Yeo added.

Affordability

Yeo believes that one reason for the firm’s growth is the affordability of the product.

To do so, the company sells its Lingzhi capsules in a smaller pack size, which also translates to a lower price. In Singapore, each box of 30 capsules is sold at SGD$45 (US$33).

In addition, each capsule contains 500mg of Lingzhi, making each capsule more value-for-money.

“Our capsule is one of the largest in the market, which is 500mg, while the others are mostly offering between 250 and 300mg.

“I think the challenge that we face is that there are many Lingzhi brands in the market, it's just that we have to make ourselves unique versus the other brands.

One of them is to make ourselves affordable and that is basically our business model from day one,” ​he said.

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