Russia and Ukraine’s top instant coffee maker sees tough times

Tan Wang Cheow, founder of Food Empire, started doing business in Russia in the late 1980s, when it was still known as Soviet Union. The adventurous accountant built a coffee empire there, before expanding to other far-flung countries like Iran, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Notably, Food Empire’s MacCoffee is the #1 instant coffee brand in both…

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Azure Capital Fund Management Singapore Private Debt Fund Singapore Hedge Funds Lyte Fund Terence Wong Blue Suit

Terence Wong, CFA

CEO and Executive Director
Azure Capital

Mar 6, 2022

Tan Wang Cheow, founder of Food Empire, started doing business in Russia in the late 1980s, when it was still known as Soviet Union. The adventurous accountant built a coffee empire there, before expanding to other far-flung countries like Iran, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Notably, Food Empire’s MacCoffee is the #1 instant coffee brand in both Russia and Ukraine. It didn’t take me long to figure Food Empire’s key market when I first met Wang Cheow back in 2000. He specially flew in Ukraine’s top girl band (dubbed the ‘Spice Girls’ of Ukraine) to perform at the launch of his company’s IPO. This war is going to be particularly painful for Food Empire, as the two countries account for 45% of group revenue. The brand may also suffer due to it’s association with Russia. Despite all the challenges, Wang Cheow’s top priority is his staff in both countries.