Vineth Bakery, The Pioneer of European Bread in Indonesia

In the beginning of Indonesian modern bakery outlets, we only had Gandy Bakery and Holland Bakery, but Gandy’s hegemony didn’t last long as there was Vineth Bakery. Perhaps the best known fact is that it is owned by William Wongso, Indonesian well known Culinary Expert and Host for his own show “Cooking Adventure with William Wongso” on Metro TV. Established in 1977 by his father in law, Vineth opened its first outlet in Samanhudi, Central Jakarta. Compared to the Asian bread which are offered by Gandy, Vineth were selling European heavy bread, it is no wonder that the majority of Vineth’s customers were western expatriates. In 1980, the bakery which was named after William’s niece, moved to Jl. Panglima Polim to suit their target market. However, now you can see Vineth’s products on some supermarkets such as Ranch Market, Kem Chicks, and Hero.

According to Lusianawati Rahardjo, William’s wife who also handles the production department, the number of expatriates is not as many as it was in the 1970’s. Nowadays, Vineth’s main customers are graduates from abroad who are getting used to eating European bread as main course, not just as regular snack. This kind of bread is using rough whole wheat that is good for diet; it has high fiber and makes you feel fuller than any other bread. This is the reason why many old people who go diet are one of Vineth’s loyal customers. Judging from the price range, we can tell that Vineth’s customers are from middle up class who are highly concerned about their health.

Back then, Lusi was travelling to Switzerland and France to gain deeper understanding of European bread where she met the experts to perfect her products and recipe. To preserve Vineth’s quality, Lusi always makes fresh products every day, even though the products may still be consumed longer than that. She doesn’t want to leave the customer wondering for the freshness of the product. Lusi used mostly couverture chocolate for Vineth products although it is more difficult to handle as it melts easier.

Lusi also always avoids using any excessive preservatives. “I can’t say we are 100% free of preservatives because some ingredients are coming with preservatives and there’s no way to remove them”, said Lusi. Vineth prefers using their own mixed dough compared to using the premix just like many other bakeries to maintain its originality. Vineth Bakery will provide special decoration for Valentine and will be available in February 2011. As usual, red and pink are the color that is commonly associated with this romantic event.

William Wongso and Luciana are lucky to have daughters that are willing to inherit their businesses. Tia Wongso is occupying the product design department while her younger sister, Olivia Wongso handles the public relations and marketing for Flavor of W, the parent company for all Vineth’s outlet. Olivia stated that her parents never forced her and Tia to continue the business, but Lucy always involves them in testing new Vineth products since they were kids. “This industry is very challenging and I still have many things to learn, therefore, I never think twice to join the family business”, said Olivia. To her, the best part of the business is that she is able to learn directly from the expert, her own parents. Just like the other businesses, Vineth can’t escape conflicts but the family was striving to be professional by doing their own duties well.

Dealing with the Inflation
In 2010, Vineth and many bakeries are having quite difficult times, the sales weren’t as high as the previous years but Lusi stated that it is still okay. Vineth was using many European ingredients whose price was rising drastically throughout the years. However, to accommodate the escalating price, Lusi decided to use alternative ingredient to push the selling price. The imported ingredients availability is another issue that is faced by Vineth in manufacturing its product variants.

Regarding government policy to prohibit regular cars to use subsidized fuel, it is predicted that many ingredients price will rise even further. When that happens, Lucy usually waits for all ingredients price to rise before raising Vineth’s price. “It is fatal, when it comes to fuel because the price of everything else will also increase”, said Lucy. The government policy is estimated will bring major impacts on bakery industry, they have to find smart ways to survive the inflation in 2011. However, their experience to pass through the hard times will once again tested. (Edwin)