Black & White legacy: Brand supports Hong Kong milk tea culture

FrieslandCampina has tied itself to the favourite drink of Hong Kongers through a number of CSR initiatives.

For a long, long time, FrieslandCampina’s Black & White brand of evaporated milk has been synonymous with milk tea, or yeet lai cha—the all-season favourite drink of many Hong Kongers.

Enter any of the ubiquitous Hong Kong-style cha chaan teng (local restaurants) in the territory, and you're likely to encounter the sight of Black & White cans piled high on the drinks counter. You might even have your milky-sweet beverage served in a Black & White-branded cup and saucer.

In fact, Black & White saucer sets are a collectible that the Dutch brand gave away to winners during its recent ‘Catch the Black & White x Chocolate Rain’ campaign.

Black & White started organising the annual Hong Kong Milk Tea Day in 2013 as part of its community outreach to promote the milk tea drinking culture. The CSR event was further expanded in 2016, when Black & White launched the milk tea master training programme, with several NGOs and big cha chaan teng names to provide vocational training for unemployed individuals. The programme includes workshops for schoolchildren and KOLs on the milk tea-making technique which has been listed as a part of Hong Kong's "intangible cultural heritage".* The programme continued this year with 30 trainees. 

Tracy Fung, marketing and sales director for dairy-based beverages at FrieslandCampina Hong Kong, said the CSR programmes were purely intended to preserve the milk tea heritage, and to give back to the community the brand has been involved in for 75 years. Fung said the success of the programmes can be measured by the career readiness of the trainees who took part in the 35-hour training and 150-hour internship. FrieslandCampina has received PR-related awards such as a Silver in the Stevie Awards for its effort in the Milk Tea Day campaign.

According to FrieslandCampina, the Black & White brand of evaporated milk is currently used by over 50% of cha chaan teng restaurants** in Hong Kong. However, in its 2017 half-year report, the company said its overall consumer sales in Hong Kong have been under pressure due to decreased tourism from China and customs restrictions on infant formula entering China.

This article has been edited as follows: 

* We added a link to the Hong Kong "intangible heritage" list.

** We corrected this sentence, which originally stated that the product was used in more than 50% of all restaurants.

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