I've had many friends asking me, why is LENE priced higher than the bottled bird's nests sitting at convenience stores? If you have ever wondered the same, this guide below is for you.
Cheap Fillers & Substitutes
Bird's nests drink as most people know it, are merely filler drinks. Fillers are cheaper substitutes used in bottled bird's nests to bring down the costs. If you look at the ingredient list of the bottled bird's nest in your hand, chances are white fungus would be listed as one of the ingredients. Most of the time, these fillers make up 90% of the content.
My mother told me since young that white fungus is also termed as "poor people's bird's nests". While it may look like bits and pieces bird's nests after cooking, the texture and taste are very different from bird's nests. While there are of course health benefits to white fungus, its price is nowhere near where bird's nest is.
Lower quality of bird's nests
Most bird's nests in the market, as we have emphasised a few times, are made from yan sui (燕碎). This is the cheapest grade of bird's nests available, which helps to bring down the cost further. LENE only has yan zhan (燕盏) or the whole bird's nests in our bottles, which is the highest grade and quality.
Amount of Bird's Nests
As mentioned previously, cheap bottle bird's nests are usually filled with fillers and very little bird's nests. By doing so, this brings down the cost yet again. For Lene, each bottle of our bird's nests is filled with 1.5g dry weight, which is tailored for our daily bird's nests intake.
Preservatives / Bleach / Additives
I'm someone who is quite against taking chemical preservatives in my food in general. Did you know that most bird's nests in the market are cleaned with chemicals and are bleached? The main reason this is again, the cost. The labour costs for cleaning bird's nests manually by hand is way too high and time consuming. Hence, most bird's nests brands choose to clean their bird's nests with chemicals and bleach their bird's nests to look clean. This is also why cheap bird's nests are usually not that good for your health either.
Sugar and Mass Production
Sugar is a preservative that helps to preserve bird's nests. Most bottled bird's nests are sugared water. Also, they are mostly mass produced by processing at very high heat, which we also explained in this article about types of bird's nests in Singapore. Double boiling is an expensive and time consuming process which most brands do not use as well.
There is a saying in Mandarin, 一分钱一分货 ,
loosely translated to quality is reflected in the price you pay for. The next time you reach for the $5 bird's nests at a convenience store, read the ingredient label carefully.