The Tien Chu (HK) Company Ltd – founded by Wu Yunchu aka P. N. Woo – “Father of Monosodium Glutamate” – initial notes

HF: The Tien Chu (H.K.) Company Ltd. was founded by Wu Yunchu (1891-1953). Wu was a chemist and industrialist  and known as the “Father of Monosodium Glutamate”. He was involved in the chemical and condiment industries in China especially I believe in Shanghai in the 1930s.

Wu Yunchu image

Wu Yunchu

York Lo says Wu Yunchu actually went by the name of “P. N. Woo” (probably due to the Shanghainese pronunciation of his other Chinese name Bao Yuan).

The production base of Tien Chu (H.K.) is located in the Tien Chu Industrial Center, Tsing Yi Island, Hong Kong, with the main product being “Foshou” monosodium glutamate.

The company website says: In recent years, the company has successively developed three series of “Foshou” products, namely monosodium glutamate, chicken powder and condiment.

York has kindly sent this extract from a Supplement of the China Daily of 2nd May 1949. This says that the first Tien Chu HK factory was at 72 Pak Tai Street, Mau Tau Kok on a 200,000 square feet site.

It had four departments making a rather odd combination of products – gourmet powder (ie MSG Monosodium Glutamate), hydrochloric acid, alcohol and chlorine compound (two of the most familiar chlorine compounds are sodium chloride(NaCl) and hydrogen chloride (HCl). Sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt, is not only used to season food but in some industrial processes. Hydrogen chloride, when mixed with water formshydrochloric acid.)

Can anyone supply a better quality image of Pak Tai Street factory?

Tien Chu China Mail b 2nd May 1949 from York Lo

China Mail 2nd May 1949

Tien Chu China Mail a 2nd May 1949 from York LoSource:

  1. Shanghai Industrial Investment (Holdings) Co Ltd – The Tien Chu (HK) Co Ltd


  1. 17th June 2014 article about the Suzhou Creek Industrial Civilization Museum, Shanghai including: Inside the glass house on the grassy area behind the museum is the hydrogen compressor purchased by Wu Yunchu, the famous modern industrialist, chemist and the father of monosodium glutamate. The 100-year-old compressor was manufactured by Worthington Pump and Machinery Corporation from United States. Wu bought the ammonia synthesis production unit in 1932 for the company he founded.
    The weight compressor, weighing more than 20 tons, was donated by the Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical Industry.
  2. Chemical Industry Museum of China from which website: The China’s synthetic ammonia and nitric acid production with ammonia oxidation process began in 1930s. In August of 1935, Tianli Factory founded by Wu Yunchu produced liquid ammonia successfully. In the same year, diluted nitric acid was produced in September and the concentrated nitric acid was produced in October.
    In 1934, the founder of Yongli Alkali Company, Fan Xudong, reorganized the factory into Yongli Chemical Industry Company, and prepared to build Nanjing Ammonium Sulphate Plant. In January, 1937, the Ammonium Sulphate Factory came into operation. It began to produce synthetic ammonia and ammonium sulphate in February. Its annual production scale was 33,000 tons of synthetic ammonia, 40,000 tons of sulphuric acid, 50,000 tons of ammonium sulphate and 3,300 tons of nitric acid.
    After the victory of Anti-Japanese War in August, 1945, Yongli Nanjing Ammonia Factory regained a set of robbed nitric acid equipment (1,482 pieces, with a gross weight of 550 tons, including a platinum mesh worth of 40,000 US dollars) from Japan, which was the only equipment regained among a large number of robbed equipments during the war.

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