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Health food wins in Hong Kong

Food & BeveragesFashionAgriculture

A Sri Lankan expatriate finds a ready market for the country’s traditional farming fare in the city.


Today’s consumers are health-conscious and seek products that are sustainable and carry a cultural message. Where products come from and how they are made matters.

Noting this, and also seeing a lack of products from her home country of Sri Lanka on the market in Hong Kong, V Brands Director Harini Perera created an online and offline retail firm in 2019, supplying food, clothing and eco-friendly household products from the island nation.

Shortly after starting the firm the pandemic struck, posing special challenges for a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firm.   

“This prompted us to think strategically and be prepared for any given circumstances in future,” Ms Perera said.

The island nation has long been known as a source of fine foods – for many years red tea was referred to as “Ceylon tea” in the British Isles – and it is a leading source of spices and seafood.

Despite this Sri Lankan brands are little known abroad so she developed one for the firm, Tikiri Manike, a tribute to the country’s traditional agriculture and the selfless work of a farmer’s wife.

The firm draws on Sri Lanka’s long-standing practice of farming organically and sustainably.

Ms Perera said the firm had been green from the outset, using recycled materials for packaging and following fair-trade practices along the supply chain.

She turned to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s (HKTDC) Transformation Sandbox for help with the branding. The T-box team guided her through the process of registering the trademark in Hong Kong, helping the firm build trust and market internationally.

Within Hong Kong V Brands has a physical shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, a popular shopping area for tourists.

The firm distributes to other retail outlets in the city and caters to restaurants, hotels and bakeries.

Target customers in Hong Kong are those seeking healthy, organic products, and V Brands finds many consumers in the city are eager to buy such food, especially organic coconut products, spices, vegan products and fresh vegetables.

Since its inception, V Brands has been an active participant in a variety of local trade exhibitions in Hong Kong such as The World of Snacks and the HKTDC Food Expo. These events promote brand visibility and customer engagement. In December, aided by T-box's informational support, V Brands successfully secured support from the Export Marketing Fund (EMF), which enabled it to attend its first overseas exhibition in Dubai.

The main markets outside Hong Kong that V Brands is interested in are the Middle East, especially the UAE, and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Customers in the UAE welcome organic, healthy products and firms there had contacted V Brands about supplies.

“In addition, we appreciate T-box assistance in connecting us with the Dubai branch office. Their support in providing practical information and conducting due diligence verification was indispensable in helping us confirm the legitimacy of our potential partners,” Ms Perera said.

“Now, we are setting up our joint venture with a company based in UAE to expand our business in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.”

V Brands hopes to partner with other suppliers of organic products when marketing beyond Hong Kong.

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