Lohao City

Today I visited the flagship store of the Lohao City chain here in Beijing. (Lohao stands for Lifestyle Of Healthy And Organic.) I needed more flaxseed oil. It was a straight line from the subway stop but I needed to call the store twice to convey this to the taxi driver. The store was a lot smaller than I expected for a chain with six locations. It was a little bigger than a 7-11. It had a baking area, a wine area, a produce area, and a wheatgrass growing area where you could get wheatgrass juice and other healthy juices. They were sampling some delicious organic wine made from a fruit the English-speaking clerk didn’t know the word for. I was a little surprised it only cost $6/bottle.

The chain is just a few years old. It specializes in organic food. The chain owns its own 22,000-acre farm where they grow the food they sell — a new type of farmer’s market. By growing the food they sell they can guarantee how it is grown. This really is an innovation in food selling. I hope the six stores (one in Shanghai) mean the concept is successful rather than they started with a lot of money.

I wanted to buy six bottles of flaxseed oil but the store only had one. The clerk went to another store to get five more but came back with only one more. One bottle (250 ml) might last me a week so I need to search for other sources.

I told the clerk the flaxseed oil was for my research. “Can you really tell the flaxseed oil improves your brain?” he asked. Yes, I said. He was studying English at a private school in Beijing. He’s in his second year of college, majoring in “commercial diplomacy” which means business diplomacy (e.g., negotiations). He predicted that even though Obama quit smoking for the campaign, he will start smoking again now that he’s President.
The chain puts out a biannual magazine now on its third issue. The magazine said something very true:”As people earn more money, they start caring whether they are healthy enough to enjoy their fortune.”

More about healthy food in China.

3 Replies to “Lohao City”

  1. The WaPo had a column the other day that concluded that Obama has not been successful in his attempts to quit:

    “Let the Guy Smoke: Obama Is Probably Fibbing About Giving Up Cigarettes. That’s Okay.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/19/AR2008111903531.html

    The Chicago Tribune and some other papers also chimed in the next day with analyses of his conflicting and vague statements.

    Like Laura Bush and Al Gore, he must be pretty good at avoiding being photographed doing it.

  2. I wonder if it says something deep about China that such a chain has to have its own farm. Maybe the customers wouldn’t trust third parties to deliver actually organically-grown produce to the store. They might shop there anyway, and hope, but wouldn’t pay more because they wouldn’t have any confidence that they (and the store) weren’t being cheated. Or, maybe, nobody will pay extra for organic, but the store can only keep cost parity with other stores by cutting out the middleman.

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