By Jacqueline Faulkner
As we head into another year filled with challenges to our global food supply and food system, COP26 is set to be held in Glasgow this November. It will be the biggest climate conference the UK has ever hosted, and offers the potential for a deeper investigation for governments, food businesses such as suppliers and restaurants, and NGOs to work together to figure out how to feed more than 9 billion world citizens by 2050. We at Food Made Good are pleased that our food system challenges have finally risen up the agenda and will be present at this COP 26. It is clear that we need to address the way we produce, consume and dispose of food if we are to meet the SDGs and meet the government goals (both UK and HK) of reaching net zero by 2050.
GREAT For A Sustainable Future Series
To discuss the issues facing us, Britcham’s first ‘GREAT For A Sustainable Future Series’, supported by the ITD’s Environment & Energy Committee, and hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong welcomed speakers from HK and the UK: David Yeung (HK), Founder, Green Monday, Holly Smith (UK), Global Business Development Manager, Paramount 21, Samson Li (HK), Chief Executive Officer, Grobest Group Holdings Limited and Food Made Good Hong Kong CEO Heidi Yu Spurrell (HK). The webinar was moderated by Pat Woo, Partner, Head of Sustainable Finance, KPMG Hong Kong.
Heidi Spurrell along with the other panelists highlighted the environmental impacts of our food system. But why is food such an important sector to address when it comes to the climate, and both human and planetary health?
Sharing and enjoying food together is at the heart of the human experience and chefs and restaurateurs are the architects and visionaries of our food culture. However, we are in the midst of a climate, biodiversity and public health crisis for which the food system must shoulder significant responsibility.
With scientists acknowledging temperatures at their highest level on a global scale further casualties are spiralling dangerously out of control for example, a million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction (IUCN, 2019), whilst on the human health side, one in nine people worldwide still do not have enough to eat (WFP, 2021).
As we stand on the brink of a hunger pandemic, with the impact of coronavirus threatening to double the number of hungry people, those living in conflict-affected areas are suffering the most. In summary our food system is ground zero for many of the most pressing sustainability challenges that society faces.
The F&B industry has a big role to play
We know that people are spending more and more of their disposable income eating out, recent estimates are that they eat out 5-10 times per week, Furthermore, consumers are increasingly identifying as flexitarian (eating less meat by default) with figures from Hong Kong reflecting between 25 – 40%. There are opportunities to redesign our menus so they support a changing consumer, as well as improving our procurement practices that are both better for people and the planet.
Despite seemingly daunting challenges; the journey forward can be a positive one. With innovative products, and a change in attitude, a reversal of food’s fortune is easily within reach.
Here is a summary of what we heard…
Grobest are all about sustainable aquaculture feed and lead the way as one of Asia’s most proactive aquaculture production plants. We heard from CEO Samson Li who strives for sustainable, transparent and healthy food production supply chains and recognised that Asia is home to 70% of the world’s aquaculture production. Grobest focus on aquatic nutrition and disease reduction for high value warm water fish and shrimp. Recognising that if we don’t act now to create a sustainable seafood supply we risk the real possibility of fishless oceans by 2048; Grobest utilise Biotechnology and monitoring systems to create a proactive R&D system which ensures the optimum health of their fish and seafood whilst simultaneously paying attention to water health too. The fish feed used is monitored closely to ensure the correct balance of vitamins and probiotics are provided, which help the fish to reach maturity earlier in a safe and sustainable way. Grobest’s mission is to produce more with less resources, with purchasing decisions only made from reputable sources. They make an annual commitment to a 5% reduction in energy consumption per unit to control carbon emissions and a 5% commitment to waste solids and air output reduction.
Holly Smith told us that Paramount 21, a wholesale provider of frozen ready made products have shifted towards more plant based options to serve consumer demand, and to address the bigger issues of environmental concerns. They offer vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and MSC certified fish. Holly highlighted studies that actually claim frozen food can be equally as nutritious, if not more so, than some fresh food products. It’s advantages also cover waste issues, if food is able to be frozen it is less likely to perish. As a small family business with a now global outreach Paramount 21 still address food shortage issues within their immediate neighbouring community. Food donations are commonplace for Paramount 21 and they are regular supporters of local charity Homeless in Teignbridge Support (HITS). HITS works with homeless people and those in crisis to distribute food bank donations.
Destructive supply chains can be rebuilt on better principles. Even in a swarming metropolis like Hong Kong, foodpreneurs are eager to find opportunities. David Yeung’s innovative products and future forward vision has turned Asia’s addiction to pork on its head, with Yeung’s drive and determination ensuring their products are well placed within chains, including McDonalds and convenience stores 7-Eleven. The figurehead of Green Monday has seen his Meat-Free Mondays campaign spread across countless global eateries, presenting their alternative dishes on menus every week. Green Common’s Omnipork is fast becoming a staple in Asia’s convenience food markets. Yeung’s next step will see expansion into a production factory in the Chinese mainland next quarter, making plant based proteins even more widely available and affordable for consumers.
Pat Woo from KPMG
We look forward to hearing more about the food system during COP 26. Although we kicked off discussions in the Nature pillar of the five campaign areas, we could easily speak to food’s relation to the other 4 thematic areas of Adaptation & Resilience, Energy, Finance, and Transport – Food really needs to be addressed holistically and Food Made Good is well positioned to continue the conversation in the race to net zero. With food accounting for between 25-30% of global GHG emissions, we need to address food if we are to address climate change.
About Food Made Good
As a chapter of the UK’s Sustainable Restaurant Association, Food Made Good Hong Kong is a Food Sustainability consultancy that encourages foodservice to operate as sustainably as possible, through membership, monthly events, audits, and awards. Our framework has been honed over the last ten years consisting of 3 main pillars: Sourcing, Society and Environment. The Food Made Good Hong Kong programme launched in 2019 with a mission to help food service businesses to operate more sustainably and by doing so at scale we can work towards a more sustainable food system, in clear alignment with the UN Global Goals.We seek to provide practical guidance, foster collaboration and accelerate change for the foodservice sector. We also support great British sustainable brands from the UK. Our platform facilitates their launch, creates opportunities for networking, and most importantly we help to tell credible sustainability stories through content creation that is genuine and avoids the pitfalls of greenwashing.