By Jade Chen

It’s Tuesday and guests are filtering into Pret a Manger’s headquarters for their daily dose of inspiration. On this morning’s agenda is Food Made Good HK’s September Meet-up: a gathering dedicated to discussing the topic Supporting Global Farmers. As Food Made Good HK Members catch up with each other, the room is quickly filled with chatter, preparing guests for the lively discussions ahead.

In a pickle

The challenges of today’s supply chains have been highlighted by Covid-19. Heightened risks in supply chains — such as lost contracts and logistical issues — have demonstrated the volatility of supply chains and exposed underlying issues that have yet to be addressed. Today, risks pervading the world’s supply chains range from modern slavery to child labour, corruption and climate change, and a lack of transparency.

Numbers of allegations and media exposes have underlined the problem, pushing conscious consumers to shift their approaches and demand more information about the origins of products. To satisfy increasingly sustainability-aware consumers, food supply chains must become fully transparent; this means providing accurate, up-to-date product information about processes and suppliers. Ultimately, it is long overdue for businesses to adopt a different perspective, considering operations from a sustainability lens instead.

Cynthia Lok from Clean

Striking a chord

For foodservice businesses, there’s plenty to consider: starting with what is purchased and where it comes from. This may entail reflecting on the source of dry goods such as chocolate, sugar, coffee, or cocoa — it’s important to choose certified ingredients or source through direct trade agreements to ensure that social and environmental standards are met. Two standards we suggest businesses look to are fairtrade and rainforest alliance.

Certification Bodies: Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance

For more insight on direct trade, we invite Cynthia Lok, founder of Clean Coffee & Laundry, to share her experience with sourcing sustainable coffee. The coffee industry, it seems, isn’t as clean as we like to think.

Morning cup of coffee… or not

Of the 25 million coffee farming families globally, 80% live below the poverty line. As smallholder farmers produce 60% of the world’s coffee, coffee farmers are often susceptible to market change — something they face on top of constant economic and climate challenges.

Becoming aware of the long journey from plant to cup prompted Cynthia to rethink her approach as a business owner. After some research, she decided to try out direct trade, cutting out the middlemen in her sourcing operations to ensure the fairest and most transparent processes. In addition to building good relationships and encouraging sustainable farming practices, direct trade enables the sharing of knowledge, the formation of collaborations and a win-win financial deal.

The long journey from plant to cup

Running errands

“We want our customers to do good, without even knowing it.”

Clean’s mission is simple: to transform everyday habits into fun, lasting and sustainable lifestyle choices. As Cynthia explains, the vision is delivered in two parts. The first involves coffee: at Clean, coffee sources are certified and oat milk is the default option. A ‘takeaway tax’ discourages the use of disposable packaging, and more efficient machinery means your morning espresso has a lower energy and water footprint.

Part two of the vision — laundry — sounds less exciting, but is nevertheless important. Cold water washes, toxic-free laundry detergent and efficient machinery are all factors that make doing laundry at Clean a more environmentally-friendly (and hopefully more enjoyable) experience. As Cynthia remarks, it’s all about the small things.

Enjoy a cup of coffee while you sit back and wait for your laundry

A problem shared is a problem solved

After another round of lively Q&As, this month’s meetup drew to a close. Soon, the room was buzzing with life as the Food Made Good HK community gathered around, sharing their takeaways from the presentations and their anticipation for sustainability journeys to come. to find out more about Clean, get in touch with Cynthia Lok at [email protected].

Meet-ups are a way to educate and inspire! The Sustainability Meet-Up Series is a monthly gathering designed to educate and empower the Hong Kong foodservice community – chefs, restaurateurs, FOH, BOH, suppliers and sustainability leads.

Inspired by our framework, the programme is curated to inspire the community, in novel ways through which they can bring in small but significant changes to their sourcing choices, menu design, supplies, just to name a few. We will be organising talks and activities delivered by sustainable food industry leaders, on various themes linked to UN International Days and our three pillars – Sourcing, Society and the Environment.

A big thank you to our supporter InvestHK, our sponsor Fresh Accounting and kind hosts Pret a Manger for making this event possible.