Hong Kong culture

Made in Hong Kong: five companies that have stood the test of time and gone global

Vitasoy, Cafe de Coral, Eu Yan Sang, Po Chai Pills and Camel vacuum flasks are all household names in Hong Kong. Some date back to the 19th century and others have slightly shorter histories, but all have been resounding successes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 12:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 12:04pm

There’s a popular Chinese saying that after a family company has been founded by the first generation, the second generation grows the business, and the third generation squanders the family fortune.

Of course, that is not always the case. A number of home-grown Hong Kong brands have endured over decades, expanded into global markets and become household names.

Here are five local brands that opened their doors to us this year to give us a peek into their operations and history.

Lo Kwee-seong created what is now known as Vitasoy in 1940 after noticing that many refugees arriving in Hong Kong from China were suffering from malnutrition. Vitasoy has gone on to become an international success story without losing touch with its local identity.

Homegrown Hong Kong: the wholesome story of Vitasoy

Victor Lo Tang-seong opened his first Cafe de Coral in Causeway Bay in 1969, to introduce Hongkongers to the burgers he had enjoyed in the United States. As the city prospered in the 1970s, he saw an opportunity in providing other meals for workers seeking convenient lunch options. Today, Cafe de Coral is a household name in Hong Kong.

A success story made in Hong Kong: Cafe de Coral – fast food chain that’s been feeding the working class since 1969

Eu Kong’s Chinese herbal medicine business began as a humble shop in a remote tin mining town in Malaya in 1879. Eu went on to build the hugely successful Eu Yan Sang across the region. Despite being riven by family strife, a corporate takeover and boardroom drama, the company continues to thrive, and is back in family hands.

Homegrown Hong Kong: Eu Yan Sang’s 138-year journey making traditional Chinese medicine has been a bumpy one

Li Shiu-kei concocted the “cure-all” herbal Po Chai Pills in 1896 and it’s a Hong Kong brand that today enjoys widespread recognition across generations. The company has remained relevant by combining ancient knowledge of traditional medicine with modern scientific techniques, and its remedies are reputedly a staple of Chinese medicine cabinets around the world.

Made in Hong Kong: the story of Po Chai Pills, ‘cure all’ medicine Chinese families have relied on for over 60 years

Leung Tsoo-hing began producing Camel vacuum flasks in 1940 after previously exporting other companies’ flasks. Before the era of consumer electronic goods, they were they only sure way to keep drinks cool or hot. Camel, with its distinctively designed and decorated flasks, became a household name in Hong Kong and has recently seen a revival in popularity.

Made in Hong Kong: the Camel vacuum flask, once an essential for school packed lunches, and the story behind it