Hong Kong Industry during World War Two – Fishing, Food and Beverages, Tobacco

HF: This is an article where we can gradually add information about the fishing industry, the production of food and beverages, and tobacco products in Hong Kong during World War 2.

As bits and pieces come in I’ll update the article and re-post it with the current date.

MC Martyn Cornell
BE Brian Edgar
HF Hugh Farmer
YL York Lo
PO Paul Onslow
ER Elizabeth Ride
Mike T


HF “Several Japanese fishing firms had established themselves in the colony since the mid-1920s and others had moved in after the conquest in the wake of the Imperial Navy. These firms were soon trawling for fish for Hong Kong’s consumption as far afield as Vietnam.

In the meantime they set to work galvanizing the local fishing communities. They dispensed fishing tackle and fitted the local wooden junks with engines torn out of commandeered British cars; and they also endeavoured to pass on on to the still primitive operators of Shaukeiwan and Cheung Chau their own more sophisticated fishing techniques.

By December 1942 around 18,000 Hong Kong Chinese fishermen were reported to be receiving instructions from the Amakusa Marine Products Industrial Company.” (Snow)  

Below is an extract from:
Essay on the evolution of regulations in the HK Fishing Industry   only the first page is foggy, scroll down. Lawrence WC Lai & Ben T Yu, Dept of Real Estate and Construction, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong, Dec 1998

Amakusa Marine Products 1 ebook.lib.hku

Amakusa Marine Products 2 ebook.lib.hku

Amakusa Marine Products 3 ebook.lib.hku

Food and Beverages


Ching Loong, Queen’s Road East, Wanchai
Hong Kong bakeries around the time of WW2

Garden Company
Hong Kong bakeries around the time of WW2

The firm closed operations during the Japnese occupation.

Lane Crawford Bakery, Stubbs Road
BE: [ The Lane Crawford Bakery] was still used as a bakery in June 1942 as my father was offered his old job as manager! This would obviously not have been a positive development, and he succeeed in avoiding the offer and continuing his work baking bread for the hospitals.

Later in the war the bakery was shut and the building used to make military buttons, rattan baskets and salted fish. This presented a huge restoration problem after the war, but the work was done – the facts that the press carry complaints about bread and note a thriving black market in December 1945 and that my father didn’t go on home leave until July 1946 (later than anyone else I’m aware of) suggest that it was a long time before the bakery was fully functional again. As far as I know it was still in operation when he left to work for the Garden Company some time in 1947/48.

The Lane Crawford Bakery, Stubbs Road, 1938-1948 

Kowloon Bakeries
Hong Kong bakeries around the time of WW2

Russian Bakeries
Hong Kong bakeries around the time of WW2

Wanchai Bakeries
Hong Kong bakeries around the time of WW2


HK Brewery and Distillery/Sham Tseng Brewery (aka Hongkong Brewery in BAAG reports) – not “Shan” as named below

The Hong Kong Brewery and Distillery Ltd, founded by Jehangir Hormusjee Ruttonjee, “was taken over by the Japanese during their occupation of Hong Kong, after the war it was returned to Ruttonjee and turned into a profitable enterprise.”
Dictionary of Hong Kong Biography, ed M Holdsworth & C Munn, HKU Press, 2012


Sham Tseng Brewery BAAG KWIZ#71 20.10.44

BAAG KWIZ#71 20.10.44

Sham Tseng Brewery BAAG KWIZ#72 27.10.44

BAAG KWIZ#72 27.10.44

MC The Battle of Hong Kong lasted until Christmas Day, when the British finally accepted the inevitable and surrendered.(80)
Jehangir Ruttonjee avoided being interned in Stanley Camp after the Japanese victory, though he supported the smuggling of food parcels into the camp, where Indians were interned along with Britons, Canadians and other nationalities, and he housed nearly the entire Hong Kong Parsee community in his home, Dina House, in Duddell Street.(81) Ruttonjee and his son Dhun were badly tortured by the Japanese after they refused to encourage members of the Parsee community to collaborate with the occupiers.(82) Meanwhile the Hong Kong brewery was one of a large number of local businesses, including Lane Crawford’s department store and the Hong Kong Ice Factory in Causeway Bay, that were ‘taken over’ by the occupying Japanese under the new governor, General Rensuke Isogai,(83) with the brewery apparently ‘farmed out’ by Isogai himself to a businessman from Osaka called Inouye Yahei.(84)
Japanese authority in Hong Kong lasted until August 1945, when, after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nakasaki, Japan agreed to end the war on the Allies’ terms.
See: Beer in Hong Kong – Part Five – the Hong Kong Brewery and Distillery Ltd 1936-1947

Dairy Farm Company

PO The Dairy Farm Company – Post WW1, the Japanese occupation and immediately post WW2

Garden Company, The

HF “Garden is traditionally a Chinese  company and supplied bread to the Chinese army during WW2. The firm closed operations during the Japanese occupation of HK from 1941 to 1945. The company expanded with the growth of Hong Kong before and after World War II and benefited from the influx of immigrants.”
The Garden Company Ltd – wikipedia

Hing Ah (興亞涼果)

YL Hing Ah’s factory was originally located in Mongkok but moved to Kowloon City (where many of the sauce factories were located as discussed in the Five Treasures article) until the Japanese occupation when they were forced to relocate to To Kwa Wan as part of the airport extension project. After the War, Hing Ah relocated to a 35000 sq ft site at KIL 2812, Wing Hong Street and Castle Peak Road which could dry up to 1500 trays of preserved fruits at the same time.

See: Makers of Preserved Fruits – Wong Wing Kee, Lee Wah Mui, Hing Ah, Lee Sin Kee, Yam Hop Hing and Koon Wah

Lee Wah Mui (李話梅)

YL During the Japanese occupation, Lee Wah Mui incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars of damages as its machines were destroyed and raw materials and finished products were looted. The business resumed after the War with 40 workers (10 male, 30 female) but business volume was only a tenth of what it was before the War and raw materials were hard to come by as the Civil War in China affected supply and the Tsuen Wan orchard was destroyed during the Japanese occupation.

See: Makers of Preserved Fruits – Wong Wing Kee, Lee Wah Mui, Hing Ah, Lee Sin Kee, Yam Hop Hing and Koon Wah

On Lok Yuen

YL During the Japanese occupation, Cheung Kat-shing was stranded in HK and served as chief evangelist for the HK Christian Association, a group created by the Japanese military government to supervise Church activities in occupied Hong Kong.
Business recovered quickly after the War and in 1946, the firm reported profits of HK$1.1 million (華僑日報, 1947-07-30) which dropped to $676,220 in 1947 (華僑日報, 1948-03-11).
See: A Slice of Heaven – the story of On Lok Yuen (安樂園), Pioneering Ice Cream, Biscuit and Confectionary Manufacturer and Restaurant Chain

Oriental Soy & Canning

YL During the Japanese occupation, production and export business was suspended at Oriental and the business scraped by through selling remaining inventory to the local population and started to build a local following. Since the Oriental plant was on the Japanese invasion route during the Battle of Hong Kong, the plant suffered damage but fortunately most of its equipment was intact so it managed to resume production relatively quickly after the War under the leadership of Chong and deputy manager ST Wu (伍舜德, better known as founder of the Maxim’s group of restaurants later on; working for Oriental as a representative of the Luk Hoi Tong group).
See: Chong Sing-chong and Oriental Soy & Canning

Poultry Farms

ER WW2 Poultry Farms during the Japanese occupation

Yam Hop Hing (任合興菓子廠)

YL During the Japanese occupation, business environment was tough in general but as pickles was a food staples for middle to low income population, Yam Hop Hing did relatively well. After the War, the Yau brothers entered the preserved fruit business with the help of a Cantonese preserved fruit expert and formed the Yam Hop Hing Preserved Fruit Factory with factory located in Ha Kwai Chung (Lower Kwai Chung). Business took off and Yam Hop Hing preserved fruit was sold throughout Southeast Asia.

See: Makers of Preserved Fruits – Wong Wing Kee, Lee Wah Mui, Hing Ah, Lee Sin Kee, Yam Hop Hing and Koon Wah

Yu Chun Loong Canning (裕全隆罐頭公司)

Its Lion brand of canned goods included a wide variety of food ranging from fruits such as longan, lychee, pears and pineapples to vegetables such as water chestnut, lotus, bitter melon, green beans and chestnut to fish such as grass carp (wan yu) and various Cantonese salted fish which were sold domestically and exported to the US and Southeast Asia. Business was strong during the War as supplies of fresh food was scarce.

YL The Sim family and Yu Chun Loong Canning (裕全隆罐頭公司)

M.Y. San & Company (馬玉山)

Yok Shan Machine Bakery (玉山机制饼, removing the last name Mar) – it closed for 8 years during the Sino-Japanese War but re-opened afterwards and was absorbed into Lingnan Biscuit Factory (岭南饼干食品厂)in 1953.
See: The Three Kings of Biscuits – M.Y. San, M.P. San and Pacific

Taikoo Sugar Refinery (known as HK Sugar Refinery during the Japanese occupation)


Taikoo Sugar Refinery BAAG #28 25.4.43

BAAG #28 25.4.43

HF: Severe damage during the Second World War left only the refinery building proper standing. By 1950, the entire Refinery had been rebuilt.

Tin Kee Noodle Products

YL A native of Dongguan, D.T. Wong came from a family of farmers and in fact his father Wong Fook-kwai (黃福貴) operated a farm in Kowloon by the name of Fook Kwai Yuen when he joined him in HK after 1949. Wong left his native Dongguan at the age of 12 in the 1920s for Canton where he started working as an apprentice at a noodle shop. He came to HK before the War and realizing the potential of mass produced noodles, he founded Tin Kee in 1942 under Japanese occupation. By 1947, he was the leader of the industry and led the formation of HK Kowloon Noodle Manufacturers Association (港九粉麫製造業總會) with himself as the chairman.

See: Ding-Tin Wong (黃丁田) and Tin Kee Noodle Products (田記製麵食品廠)

Wong Wing Kee (王榮記果子廠)

YL By the Japanese occupation (1941-45), Wong Yuk-cheung’s son Wong Hing-kui (王慶渠) had taken over and in 1943, Wong Wing Kee added a branch in its own property at 39 Gilman’s Bazaar in Central.

See: Makers of Preserved Fruits – Wong Wing Kee, Lee Wah Mui, Hing Ah, Lee Sin Kee, Yam Hop Hing and Koon Wah

Yan Chim Kee – Coconut Candies & Ice Cream Maker

YL In 1938, the Japanese occupied Canton and the Yan Chim Kee store there was looted. During the Japanese occupation of HK, Yan Chim Kee’s production was significantly reduced and in the early years after the War business was challenging even with contracts from the government to manufacture a variety of candies.
See: Yan Chim Kee (甄沾記) – the Life, Death and Rebirth of the Century Old Coconut Candies & Ice Cream Maker


The British-American Tobacco Company

BAAG Kweilin Weekly Intelligenc Summary #66, 15.9.1944
[The BAT] now called H.K. Tobacco Co. of H.K. Governor’s Dept. Over 700 workers employed. Tuesday and Friday are the days for rationing cigarettes to the dealers. Owing to shortage of tobacco leaves work stopped on 18 JUN 44 and simultaneously supplies to dealers. Rationing started again on 27 JUN 4 times a month on Fridays. Due to shortage of electric power machines work every second day only. From 1 JUL manpower instead of electricity had to be used for all kinds of work.

Orient Tobacco Manufactury Company

Mike T: The Orient Tobacco Manufactury Company is mentioned in the Chamber of Commerce Members list from 1936 (page xxxiii), showing Orient Tobacco Manufactory / C. Ingehnohl Ltd. as a member since 1912.


They seem to have lasted at least until WWII as there are multiple Swiss and Japanese library records dating to the end of the war and mentioning the company, specifically in relation to having been looted during Japanese occupation of the colony.

This article was first posted on 16th June 2015.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. HK Industry during World War two
  2. HK Industry during World War Two – transport

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