By Jade Chen

I had the pleasure to sit down with Punam Chopra at her newest outlet for SpiceBox Organics in Tseung Kwan O. We had a lovely discussion about SpiceBox Organics, plans for the upcoming year, and her journey practising and teaching yoga. I asked Punam to tell me the background of SpiceBox Organics and what the sustainability journey has been like for her. 

They opened our first SpiceBox Organics in 2012, on Third Street in Sai Ying Pun. A decade ago, organic food was not easily accessible in Hong Kong, and she wanted to create a space where they could educate the local community about healthy eating. Punam pulled from her years of experience abroad in health and wellness and applied it to the concept behind SpiceBox Organics. It is a space and a resource for those who are looking for information on improving their overall well being. It has been quite a journey for SpiceBox Organics! Punam reflects over the last few years and is glad the business has persevered, especially since being challenged with the pandemic. They are extremely proud to have expanded to 3 venues in Hong Kong, and opened their first international store in Hyderabad India. Customer positive reinforcement and feedback has driven Punam and her team forward during these last few years. 

Punam Chopra, Founder of  Spicebox Organics

Sustainability Trends in Hong Kong

Punam has noticed that trends such as organic foods, and foods catering to dietary needs have most definitely become more accessible in Hong Kong over the years. As the community becomes more educated about healthy eating, it is only natural for them to seek nutrient dense foods. From working closely with young adults at schools, Punam has seen classes focusing on sustainability and the environment. People are more aware of the growing environmental situation. It is a step in the right direction when it comes to sustainability efforts!

Food waste is another notable trend. To reduce food waste, SpiceBox Organics has implemented a fresh frozen section, entailing cooking and immediately freezing some of their dishes, like their Vegan Keto Lasagna and Vegan Chilli. This method helps the dish retain all its nutrients and reduce possible food waste. Punam has noticed this trend taking off in Hong Kong as many meal-plan companies now take this approach as well. Their aim is to educate the community on how to utilise their freezers in order to reduce food waste.

Frozen cashew lasagna meal

At SpiceBox Organics they’ve always had a thorough understanding of sustainable business practices, but at the beginning Punam found it extremely hard to implement, as there was limited support and understanding from stakeholders. With persistence on changing and improving their daily operations, they now have an extensive bulk and purchase by weight section. Customers can bring their own containers to purchase all their organic pantry needs, to reduce food waste and unnecessary plastic in the kitchen.

It is no secret that SpiceBox Organics is known to carry over 1,000 organic and natural products, but their signature handcrafted items are what they are most proud of, especially their Organic Tempeh and proprietary SpiceBlends, being their hero products. They have been the first in Hong Kong to create organic tempeh, which has been featured in many of our café menu dishes! They are now expanding the tempeh line, selling to businesses in Hong Kong who are looking to put this nutritious plant-based, high protein meat alternative on their menu. Excitingly they also have 10 Heritage SpiceBlends, which are truly special and unique to their brand. The spices are packaged in recyclable craft paper tubes and vegetable ink printing. Punam notes that these SpiceBlends are becoming very popular for people of all ages as it is very easy to cook with and easy to purchase. Each SpiceBlend also comes with a recipe, to make things even easier. Supporting local suppliers is one of their missions, and they hope the Hong Kong community and retailers will enjoy these locally created products.

Vegan tempeh balls from Spicebox Organics

growing the community

“education has always been our top priority”

The SpiceBox Organics team have been busy expanding their business in India this past year. It is evident that the community there is becoming aware of sustainable initiatives and craving sustainably driven businesses. With that said, their goal is to develop and further educate as many customers as possible. Punam has said their long term goal (which will take a few years to accomplish) is to eliminate all plastic use in the daily operations by 2025. They are almost there!

Healthy and sustainable handcrafted food

As SpiceBox Organics is a founding Member of Food Made Good HK, I wanted to ask Punam to share why they are a Member. “We are proud to be invested in sustainability efforts, and it is even more rewarding to have a group of businesses and like minded people work together towards achieving their sustainability goals. Food Made Good HK has further expanded our community, and it has been an absolute honour to be recognized by them. We look forward to continuing our partnership, and learning from each other, as there is much more that needs to be done collectively to make a powerful impact.”

To learn more about SpiceBox Organics head to their website here.

If you make sustainable products suitable for the foodservice industry please get in touch with us about Food Made Good Membership and lets see what possibilities lie ahead in normalising sustainability!