There is a familiar logo on household shelves in PNG. It shows a man with a strong arm saying “Bikpela na Strongpela”. It is the logo of the Lae Biscuit Company, affectionately known as just Lae Biscuits.
PNG consumes tonnes of Lae Biscuits everyday. Lae Biscuits are so popular they are virtually one of the basic food items in PNG. They are called ‘navy biscuits’ because they were a standard fare on ships in the old days. They’re basically a hard long lasting biscuit made from flour and sugar.
Biscuits are one of the most easily portable food products for a rugged and widespread country like PNG. They can be carried into the most remote villages or islands and still be fresh and intact. They do not go stale or soft like normal sweet biscuits and can be eaten anytime without cooking or preparation. A ll people have to do is open the packet. Lae Biscuits are better than tinned meat or fish. Weight for weight a carton of biscuits will feed and satisfy more people at less cost compared to any other food in PNG.
Director Ian Chow says, “I just grew into biscuit making. I had always been interested in cooking. I started baking and that’s how we got into the bakery side”. From there began the French Bake House chain of bakeries making all types of breads, cakes, pastries, buns, rolls and pies. French Bake Haus supplies all the major hotels, airlines, government institutions and all supermarkets and shops in PNG.
The ‘navy’ biscuits are transported to the islands by “Coastal Shipping” a company which operates from Rabaul and Lae, plying the islands with general cargo, bulk fuel and passengers. It operates PNG designed barges which can deliver to any harbour, without wharf facilities. The company is a nationally owned company and operates as shipowners, shipping operators, ship and fishing agents and stevedores. It has comprehensive wharf and workshop facilities and a shipbuilding and repair slipway in Rabaul.