Finance

Low cost, nutritious soy milk made this household a US$1.5 billion fortune

Julian Arnold was the U.S. industrial attaché to China in 1936 when he gave a chat concerning the virtues of the soybean.

He known as it “The Cow of China,” explaining that the legume packed simply as a lot vitamin as milk. The speech so impressed Lo Kwee-seong that he based his personal soy milk firm 4 years later in Hong Kong, billing it as a dietary complement as a result of the working class couldn’t afford milk throughout struggle time.

At the moment, Vitasoy Worldwide Holdings Ltd. sells its merchandise in 40 markets, from the U.S. to Australia, with mainland China accounting for greater than half its income. Shares of the soy milk maker have surged greater than three,500 per cent for the reason that firm’s 1994 preliminary public providing, and eight members of the Lo household are reaping the rewards. They’re price a mixed US$1.5 billion, based on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

A spokeswoman for the corporate declined to remark.

The worldwide soy milk market reached US$15.three billion in 2018, and gross sales of flavoured soy milk are anticipated to develop 6.three per cent yearly from 2019 to 2025, based on an April report by Grand View Analysis Inc.

Vitasoy, a provider for espresso large Starbucks Corp., is now one in all Hong Kong’s most recognizable manufacturers, with its merchandise bought in comfort shops, supermarkets and on-line. Its shares, which climbed to a document Tuesday, have surged 44 per cent this yr, trouncing the three.5 per cent achieve for the benchmark Cling Seng Index.

Vitasoy posted income of HK$four.45 billion (US$567.6 million) for the six months ended Sept. 30, a 22 per cent improve from a yr earlier, and a “promising progress outlook” ought to entice extra institutional traders, stated Alice Leung, a Hong Kong-based analyst at KGI Securities Co. “The corporate has demonstrated a stable observe document.”

Lo died in 1995, a yr after the IPO, when Vitasoy had a market worth of about US$200 million. A number of different members of the family are nonetheless concerned within the agency, together with his son Winston, who’s the chairman. Winston’s sister Yvonne, nephew Peter and daughter Could are administrators. Peter can be chief govt officer of restaurant operator Cafe De Coral Holdings Ltd. At the moment, Vitasoy is price about US$5.eight billion.

As the corporate approaches its 80th birthday, Hong Kong has change into a mecca for billionaires and multimillionaires. Vitasoy has rebranded its soy milk merchandise as a wholesome and pure meals simply as many Asians are discovering they battle with lactose intolerance, based on the U.S. Nationwide Library of Drugs. It has additionally diversified to supply tofu, purified water, juices and lemon tea, vital summer season quaff for younger customers in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Bloomberg.com

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