Yang Kee Trading

Meat alternatives in the early 2000s

Long before plant-based meat alternatives were popularized, vegetarianism and veganism was already a significant part of Asian American culture. Even if they weren't fully vegetarian or vegan, many Asian Americans participated in being vegetarian on new moons and full moons due to Buddhist beliefs or Buddhist influences on their cultures. Thus, decades before brands like Beyond and Impossible were commonly found in supermarkets and on menus nationwide, Asian vegetarian and vegan meat alternatives were already staples in Asian supermarkets, stores, and restaurants across the country.

A vegetarian and health-conscious family

Like many Asian American families in the Bay Area, we were regular consumers of these meat alternatives. At the time, there were several local Asian American vegan and vegetarian brands and being a vegetarian family, we likely consumed more than most families. However, our founders were very health conscious and quickly became wary of excessive artificial additives in products. Thus, they eventually decided to start their own company to provide products to our community that they themselves would be comfortable consuming regularly. After lots of research, several trips to Taiwan, and a few loans from friends and family, Yang Kee Trading was started.

All hands on deck

Starting a new family business required all hands on deck. When we didn't have the budget for paid marketing, we leveraged every member of the family to do food demos and get more people try our products - for years, all four of us, including the youngest in elementary/middle school, would get up before sunrise every weekend to drive to our customers' stores and spend two full days by supermarket freezers cooking up samples for shoppers. Without any employees, one founder took over order delivery and most customer relations while the other managed all accounting and administrative tasks while supporting on customer communications. After graduating, the elder daughter joined her father in making deliveries and working with customers. When there were regulatory processes that, as immigrants, the founders couldn't understand or struggled to navigate, their youngest daughter regularly spent hours researching regulations and corresponding with federal employees to navigate those processes. Together, their efforts established Yang Kee Trading's place in the local community.

Honest ingredients, product diversity, and elevated service

In addition to adding healthier products to the local options, our founders also brought in more vegetarian and vegan products that were not available on the market before, further diversifying options for the local community. While many products, such as vegan candy, vegan microwave meals, several vegan desserts, etc., did not last more than a few years, many are still around and have established Yang Kee Trading's place as a local leader in introducing new vegetarian and vegan options to the local community. We still returns to Taiwan whenever we can to seek out more options to add to our catalog. Aside from our products, our company was also able to stand out with our elevated customer service - in addition to being extra attentive to our customers' needs for inventory and ordering patterns, we also stocked shelves ourselves, regularly checked on stores to keep our sections in stores organized, proactively replaced any defective products we found without question, and ultimately cultivated healthy, long-term partnerships with all of our customers.

20 years later

Over the last two decades, our business was able to stabilize within the Bay Area. We no longer spent weekends hanging out by freezers and regulatory processes were no longer as burdensome. Many other similar businesses in the area have scaled back their operations, closed, or transferred ownership as their founders have aged and most of their children are unwilling to take over business operations. With time, we developed a reliable customer base and eventually became the primary supplier for Asian vegan and vegetarian products in the Bay Area. As operations stabilized, the youngest daughter was able to focus on college and work while her parents and sister continued operations at a routinely pace. After several years of working in a variety of roles in both corporate and startup environments, the youngest daughter decided it was time for the family business to establish an online presence and apply the skills she developed towards helping people all across the country gain access to the Asian vegan and vegetarian products that Bay Area locals have been able to enjoy over the last twenty years. At the same time, our founders are looking to retire and hand off their responsibilities soon. After nearly two decades of routine stability, we will soon be transitioning into a new era and are excited for you to join us as we grow and evolve.