Dr K.S. Lo (1910–1995) was an ethnic Chinese from Malaysia. After studying in The University of Hong Kong in the 1920s and graduation in the 1930s, he worked in Hong Kong and founded The Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Company Limited in 1940. The milk beverage Vitasoy he developed was sold across the globe after many years of struggle and hard work. His company has been the world’s most successful soya bean product manufacturer and Dr Lo became a legend of the Hong Kong beverage industry. Even today, the story of Vitasoy and Dr Lo still fascinates us.
Dr Lo studied at The University of Hong Kong with financial support from Mr Eu Tong Sen, owner of Eu Yan Sang. After he had graduated from the university, Dr Lo began working for Eu Tong Sen in the 1930s. During a business trip to Shanghai, he went to a nutrition talk where a US expert named soya bean as the “Milk cow of China”. The idea gave Dr Lo great inspiration and he went on to study and developed soya milk which the common people could afford. Subsequently, Dr Lo founded The Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Company Limited and established his life long career.
There was great hardship for common people in the 1940s. Seeing the Chinese people were weak and stricken with diseases and malnutrition, Dr Lo was motivated by a patriotic ideal to start a business with the Confucian philosophy at heart. He then set out to develop “the poor man’s milk — Vitasoy”. Designed as a nutrition supplement for the common people in Hong Kong, it aimed to improve the overall physical condition of the Chinese population. After the Sino-Japanese War, Dr Lo started the business in Hong Kong again but the market response was not good due to limited storage time of soya bean milk. Although initial market reception left something to be desired, sales began to grow in 1953 when production was enhanced by high-temperature sterilisation which freed the product of storage time constraint. In the 1970s, Vitasoy was the first to introduce aseptic packing, leading to its successful access to overseas markets. Riding on the worldwide trend of eating healthy, Vitasoy was further developed and sales went up sharply globally.
While running a successful business, Dr Lo made many efforts to serve the people and contribute to society. Important public services included Chairman of the Hong Kong Consumer Council, Chairman of the Urban Council, Legislative Council Member etc. Dr Lo was indeed a man of many contributions, but to the art circle, he would always be remembered most for one single achievement: his donated tea ware collection conducive to the establishment of the first Museum of Tea Ware in Asia by the Urban Council.
Dr Lo’s collection started as serendipity. One day in the 1950s, he saw some old teapots in the window of the Central Building in the Central. Their diverse shapes and forms caught his eye. This chance encounter resulted in a purchase of more than 30 teapots. He did some research and found that these elegant vessels were called Yixing purple clay teapots. Since then he developed strong interest in tea ware and embarked on a long road of collecting.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, a whole year of celebration activities were planned for 2014. From Soya Bean Milk to Pu'er is the grand finale of the celebration activities. It showcased the life and times of Dr Lo, founder of Vitasoy Group, and his story of collecting. From the collection in the Museum, citizen can recall the contributions of this Hong Kong legend to the Hong Kong society and in promoting the Chinese culture.