The third technology of a time-honoured native model of concentrated flavoured syrups tries to breathe new life into the household enterprise and produce distinctive tastes from Macau to throughout the border.
When speaking about souvenirs from Macau, most individuals in all probability consider almond muffins and beef jerky, in addition to the crowded scenes (earlier than the Covid-19 pandemic) on the meals memento retailers within the streets and alleys within the neighborhood of Ruins of St. Paul’s on the peninsula or Rua do Cunha in Taipa. However these solely existed within the current a long time.
Between the 1960’s and 1970’s, travellers shopped close to the Interior Harbour space, the place they purchased cigarettes, wines, seafood, important oils in conventional Chinese language drugs, and concentrated syrups of varied flavours for households and mates in Mainland China. It’s an anecdote instructed by Chan Weng Si, the third technology that runs and manages Kam Loi, a time-honoured household model of practically 70 years chargeable for manufacturing distinctive concentrated syrups.
In addition to a cup of espresso or milk tea, individuals listed here are accustomed to having fun with drinks of watercress, chrysanthemum or fig syrup — which will be served sizzling or chilly — in cha chaan teng, the native fashion of cafes. As their names recommend, the recipe of those drinks is reasonably easy: concentrated flavoured syrups and water within the proportion of about 1 to six. That’s how the grandparents-in-law of Ms. Chan began the enterprise in 1954 — a small street-side tea stall that caters a wide range of snacks and drinks, together with the concentrated flavoured syrup drinks.
20 years later, when Chan’s father-in-law assisted within the enterprise within the 1970’s, the manufacturing of the concentrated syrups was standardised in batches, which didn’t solely satiate the wants of their eateries but additionally different native cafes and eating places. “Earlier than the handover [in 1999] we produced the concentrated flavoured syrups in our personal store, however given the stricter authorities necessities for manufacturing meals merchandise after the handover, we have now bought an industrial unit in Ilha Verde and made the merchandise there since then,” Ms. Chan explains. “Our merchandise could possibly be present in supermarkets and grocery shops, whereas some native time-honoured and well-known eating places and cafes additionally use our merchandise to make syrup drinks.”
A bottle of concentrated flavoured syrup is just priced at MOP12 (US$1.5), which presents a small revenue margin. That, in addition to gross sales of lower than 12,000 bottles a month, precipitated Ms. Chan’s household to surrender the enterprise for 3 months in late 2016, till Ms. Chan restarted the operation once more in 2017. “As I needed to begin up my very own enterprise at the moment, I assumed why didn’t I become involved on this household enterprise,” she says. “They [the second generation of the Kam Loi brand] have been nervous I might mess up this time-honoured model, however the model would have gone anyway [as they did not continue]. In order that they let me have a shot.”
One of many first few issues she did after spearheading Kam Loi was the addition of a brand new flavour, rose syrup, moreover the prevailing three tastes — watercress, chrysanthemum and fig syrups. The branding of Kam Loi has additionally been improved at her helm, as an example, its identify and emblem have been registered and trademarked within the metropolis for the primary time. “The previous technology didn’t actually deal with Kam Loi as a model, so what I’ve finished is healthier inform the historical past and story of the model,” Ms. Chan remarks.
To rejuvenate the model, Ms. Chan appears to be like past the native market by collaborating in various commerce exhibits and exhibitions in Mainland China, together with the China Worldwide Import Expo held in Shanghai. “The merchandise of Kam Loi have additionally been obtainable for gross sales in mainland e-commerce platforms like Taobao,” she illustrates.
“We’ve got to undertake a unique technique to discover the mainland market: it’s troublesome for our merchandise to be positioned on the shelf of the supermarkets within the mainland given the excessive slotting charges charged by the operators, whereas the mainland eating places are additionally not all in favour of our merchandise on account of the next value in contrast with different beverage selections obtainable throughout the border,” she continues. “If we wish to faucet into the mainland market we might simply accomplish that by on-line sale or establishing a bodily retailer.”
Since 2019, Kam Loi has collaborated with a mainland eatery chain to promote merchandise in one of many latter’s shops in Guangzhou. In partnership with different meals and beverage companies throughout the border, the Macau model can also be getting ready to arrange 4 bodily shops in Shenzhen, which is able to entertain mainland shoppers with the distinctive tastes of town. “These 4 shops will likely be operated within the format of tea stalls, the place shoppers might have a style of the drinks of watercress syrup and others. Ought to they have an interest they may get extra concentrated flavoured syrups on-line,” Ms. Chan notes. “Our collaboration with the mainland companies is that we are going to present coaching for the employees to start with and they’re going to run the shops.”
Requested about particulars of the growth plan of Kam Loi within the mainland market, particularly the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Higher Bay Space, she remarks that they’d do it step-by-step ought to any alternatives come up.
Regardless of a greater branding and setting foot within the mainland market, this household enterprise continues to be shedding cash. “We haven’t made any earnings for years and that’s why [my father-in-law] needed to surrender the enterprise within the first place. Since I took up the enterprise, we’ve nonetheless been shedding a five-figure quantity each month,” Ms. Chan says. However the firm has no plan to lift the value of their merchandise considerably to supply a greater revenue margin. “If there’s a worth hike, some prospects won’t select our concentrated flavoured syrups,” she provides.
Acknowledging the market competitors is “fierce”, she factors out Kam Loi doesn’t solely vie with different native beverage manufacturers within the Macau market. “For meals souvenirs like almond muffins there would possibly solely be as much as 100 manufacturers sharing the pie,” she says. “However once we speak about drinks there are zillions of manufacturers from town, Hong Kong, Mainland China and all over the world.”
This has not deterred her from conserving the operation afloat. “Kam Loi hasn’t made any earnings but as a result of we haven’t made sufficient investments to raised promote and market the merchandise,” she believes. “So I’ve exhausted all efforts to earn cash in different companies in hopes of splurging it on Kam Loi.”
Along with the operation of concentrated flavoured syrups, Ms. Chan can also be concerned in companies together with model consulting and customs declaration procedures for buying and selling. This June, she and a companion arrange an eatery at Travessa dos Anjos within the metropolis’s downtown, catering easy meals, espresso, and Kam Loi drinks.
Other than the syrup drinks, she has provide you with a brand new line of natural teas underneath the Kam Loi model for the brand new store — an try to check market reception. “I’ve needed to do that for a while so I reap the benefits of this chance to take action. Each the natural teas and flavoured syrups are drinks with well being advantages and vitamins,” she explains.
All of those are nonetheless manufactured within the manufacturing facility of about 1,000 sq. toes in Ilha Verde. “The manufacturing facility has about three to 4 employees, who make all of the merchandise by hand,” she says. “We don’t want to make use of machines for mass manufacturing in the mean time, as our sale has but to justify this method.”
In a bid to diversify the economic system from gaming, the native authorities has been dedicated to rolling out completely different initiatives to help entrepreneurship, particularly youth entrepreneurship, and time-honoured manufacturers within the metropolis like interest-free loans. However Kam Loi has not utilized for any authorities mortgage schemes nor financial institution loans, regardless of the declare of Ms. Chan that they “haven’t any cash.”
“I don’t wish to have money owed,” she explains. “Many individuals have instructed me I ought to get the loans and higher use the amenities and measures supplied in Macau. Nevertheless, I simply wish to run the enterprise inside my very own capability.”
“Everybody has alternative ways of doing enterprise — it’s my private alternative,” she says.