Cultivating a Taste for Affordable Health: Blue Seal Milk and the Popularization of Milk Beverage in Post-war

John D Wong

1The University of Hong Kong

This paper studies the process by which milk beverage developed widespread acceptance in post-war Hong Kong against the backdrop of global politics and economic construction.

With the advent of the Cold War and the United States’ shift in diplomatic focus to Asia, the Food-for-Peace Programme which began shipment to Hong Kong in 1954 brought million tons of skimmed milk powder to the city.  The abundance of milk in this powdered form allowed the poor a taste of the beverage billed for its health benefits.  To leverage this nutrition discourse and to differentiate its low-cost offering from the charitable option, the Dairy Farm Co. Ltd. promoted Blue Seal Milk, a form of reconstituted milk also made from milk powder.  Besides highlighting Blue Seal Milk’s nutrition values and the scientific manufacturing process, Dairy Farm marketed this product on the good taste of reconstituted milk at a reasonable price.  This paper explores how Dairy Farm fashioned a brand of milk reconstituted from milk powder, targeted an upwardly mobile population in a city experiencing economic takeoff, and created a reasonably priced beverage popular among a large cross section of the Hong Kong population by the 1980s.


John Wong’s research focuses on the flow of people, goods, capital, and ideas. With a particular interest in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta area, Wong explores how such flow connected the region to the Chinese political center and their maritime partners in the South China Sea and beyond.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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