Strolling through one of the biggest supermarket in Brunei, mindful not to be a victim of price targeting (something I learnt from a book I read some time ago), so obvious by the very low price of the chicken and some inexplicably higher prices on some other products (to talk about this will be a long winded entry on its own), I met a friend who happens to be well connected to the supermarket.
After all the pleasantries, I asked how business is. To my surprise, despite the whole world yet to recover from the credit crunch, he seemed upbeat about the prospect of the local business scene especially the local products. After given few tips on what products are really cheap and what products are not (surprisingly my friend gave away the business secret here!), we got talking about how he and his connections can contribute to the market growth of the local products.
According to him, Brunei has the products, marketable, "sellable", tasty and in some cases among the best around. But what seemed to be lacking is our ability to transform from a small family business to a bigger “industry” level business. Add to that the lack of lab facility to certify our products are up to the internationally accepted standards (so far we have our own Brunei Halal Brand, which is indeed a very good start). Another obstacle seems to be the seasonal nature of some of the businesses, where they work “ikut mood”, some months they work, some months on holiday, making supply of the products unreliable. (zzzzzzz.... such a long winded description, I myself is yawning typing this down).
After listening to him, and was about to make my move (I was already late... for sure I will get just telor puyu, if I am lucky, for Jumaat prayers), he said proudly, the store imported everything, every single product you can think of, even the ones produced in Brunei, except for one product. Guess what the product is? I laughed when he told me.... jeng jeng jeng... it is BELACAN! Yes belacan ladies and gentlemen! The red brownish shrimp paste (bubuk nya orang Brunei), the subject of the famous dialog in P. Ramlee movie “Bukan kau tak tau kesukaan aku belacan, kenapa kau masak sayur asam tak campur belacan.” Ha ha ha .... yes belacan. The reason? No imported belacan can rival the Brunei made belacan!
Wow! Something we all must be proud off! Our belacan is Numero Uno, Nombor Wahid, top of the chart in the belacan world! To those who love belacan, next time you have our local belacan, be sure to enjoy every bit of it. You are tasting the best, just the like the caviars of the Caspian Sea.
Myself, I am not a big fan of belacan. Not that I don’t like it. In fact when I was small, I used to take belacan with “ampalam” (kalah orang mengidam!). But lately, any products from the shrimp family will cause me to have, what a lot of ladies dream off by having botox, Vitamin C injections etc, the “Angelina Jolie” lips effect. Add to that, the “Rocky Balboa” face (the face after multiple hits!) and the “itchy & scratchy” cartoon acts from the Simpsons. So the choice is take belacan or suffer......
Well.... like it or not, love it or hate it, scratching or not, Brunei made belacan is Numero Uno!