You may not be familiar with the name Golden Resources, but no doubt, you must have eaten its Golden Elephant brand of rice. It has been one of Hong Kong’s best-selling brands for years.
Founded by Lam Butt Chung in 1946, Golden Resources Development International Limited started off as a small trading company before obtaining a license to import rice from the authorities in 1955. Since then, it has become Hong Kong’s leading rice wholesaler and distributor, offering full service from rice sourcing, processing and formulating to packaging, marketing and distribution. In 1991, the company was listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.
Soon after the company was listed, Anthony Lam, grandson of the company’s founder, joined the family business as Managing Director. He said that the rice industry is a long-term and traditional business, so innovation is essential to keep the business growing. It was his father David Lam Kwing Chan, the “King of Rice,” who brought in advanced technology to boost the business.
Modernization and innovation
Golden Resources was a pioneer in introducing small consumer packs in Hong Kong. “We were the first to develop packaged rice with the emergence of supermarkets,” said Lam proudly.
Golden Resources didn’t just stop there as it further improved the consumer packs by adding a handle, which greatly increased the convenience for customers. These consumer packs with handles were very popular after they were introduced as people no longer needed to bring their own bags to the rice shop.
The consumer packs were then later issued in different sizes ranging from 1kg-8kg, in response to the downsizing of Hong Kong families due to falling birthrates. These choices allowed people to buy rice according to their different family sizes.
One problem familiar to the older generations was finding weevils in their rice at home. However, Golden Resources was the first Hong Kong company to apply vacuum treatment to consumer packs which ensured that weevils in rice became a thing of the past.
With rising environmental concerns about using non-degradable plastic bags in packaging, Golden Resources introduced Hong Kong’s first environmentally friendly rice bag. This special bag is made from a substance that complies with the European Union’s packaging standard, enabling the plastic package to become degradable after being discarded.
Importing rice is just one part of Golden Resources’ business, as the company also boasts its own complete processing line. “We do not simply sell the finished products we import, we further process the rice using an advanced and computerized rice processing system owned by us and which is the only complete rice processing plant in Hong Kong. The freshness and the taste of the rice are thus strictly controlled, so it can maintain a constant standard that meets the customers’ requirement,” said Lam.
Golden Resources provides a wide variety of rice brands in the market from several countries. “We were the first to import Australian fragrant rice to Hong Kong,” said Lam said. “Before, we usually always consumed Thai rice and nobody tried fragrant rice.” The fragrant rice unexpectedly became widely popular in the market, and Golden Elephant Brand Premium Jasmine Rice soon became the bestselling brand in Hong Kong. The company also owns several other well-known brands like Kangaroo Brand Rice and Kam Heung Premium Jasmine Rice.
When asked about his management philosophy, Lam mentioned that his father said to him that “there can be no profiteering or speculation because rice is a long-term business.” Lam said that during past food shortages in Hong Kong, “we had the responsibility of safeguarding a sufficient supply of rice for the people at reasonable prices.”
The company suffers from labour shortages due to a lack of local labour. “People now are looking for white-collar jobs, so for blue-collar jobs like unloading goods, there’s insufficient labour supply,” said Lam.
To alleviate the problem, he has implemented automation and mechanization to replace some of his labour needs though this has not eliminated the entire problem.
Meanwhile, he has established a Human Resources Development Plan and trains his staff so they can gain more knowledge about the rice industry and have the chance to be promoted.
As the rice retailing and wholesaling business in Hong Kong is rather stable, Lam expanded his business to Vietnam’s retailing sector eight years ago. Seeing that convenience stores weren’t common in Vietnam at that time, Lam introduced the convenience store concept to the country, which he viewed as a “growing platform.”
Company: Golden Resources Development Ltd
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