Photo: Heidi Yu-Spurrell from Food Made Good HK and Gagan Gurung from Tell Camellia
By Sarah-Jane Tucker
The September Food Made Good sustainability series on Tuesday morning was warmly welcomed by Gagan Gurung, the owner and manager at Tell Camellia. As we all settled into our seats for the event to begin, everyone helped themselves to glasses of refreshing cold brewed green tea made by Tell Camellia and some delicious pastries and croissants generously provided by Island Shangri-La.
Support Global Farmers
Supporting global farmers is an integral strategy towards ending poverty and hunger, increasing gender equality and stimulating sustainable food production and consumption habits. Yet as consumers, we face the formidable task of working through a complex global food system to ensure that it ‘s truly the farmer who benefits from the dollars we are spending on our food. We learned that some farmers receive as little as one percent of the final value of their produce, after it has made its way from farm to very distant forks.
Luckily, several certified food schemes ensure social and environmental standards are being met, to help us avoid falling foul of the big issues along the value chain. These include the quality of working conditions, the challenge of child labour, safety, transparency, corruption and environmental awareness to name a few. Certified products provide peace of mind to the conscientious food buyer, who still – according to HSBC, continue to grow in number, despite the difficult times we currently live in.
Photo: Getting into Tell Camellia
Photo: (left) Angelica Klein & Heidi Yu-Spurrell from Food Made Good HK with Gagan Gurung from Tell Camellia
Food Made Good colleague Barney Smyth spoke on the issue from his strategic role at the Fairtrade Foundation, describing the fundamental injustice to be that farmers typically put in the hardest work, but achieve the lowest reward for their effort. Fairtrade certification programs address such imbalance, by not only providing farmers with the security of a minimum retail price, plus a further premium to invest in essential healthcare or education, but also by upholding the broader scope of responsibility we have towards those that grow the food we eat, through extensive social, environmental and economic standards. Barney further explained how farmers benefit from the positive, long term supplier and trade agreements promoted among fair-trade certified producers who have adopted the scheme.
Photo: Gagan Gurung from Tell Camellia and Wayne Tsang from
Photo: (left to right) Paul Gardner from Fresh Accounting, Heidi Yu-Spurrell from Food Made Good HK and Sampson Chen from PizzaExpress
Hearing from the speakers
Herman Wong shared his story of how he works to provide great-tasting coffee for his health and wellness company, Beams coffee, in the most ethical, convenient and sustainable way. The Beams Co. solution has been to combine coffee with mushrooms – those special mushrooms, which have been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries – then placing this innovative product into regular coffee capsules to provide all the health benefits of the mushrooms and ultimately promote a healthier generation of coffee drinkers!
As a small coffee company seeking to be sustainable in a competitive market, Beams Co. has established long-term relationships with companies aligned with their principles to create a value chain they can shout about. They work closely with farmer cooperatives who demand fairer product pricing and surplus income to invest in their communities. Best practice is shared among everyone and coffee waste products have been used for mushroom growing and vice versa; thereby benefiting everyone involved.
Photo: Kisum Chan, co-founder of Rice Inc. giving his presentation
Kisum Chan from Rice Inc. described how the team behind The Paddi Range of rice products envisions effective supply chains for South East Asian rice farmers, that will maximise crop yield and vital income for their suppliers. We heard how five hundred million tonnes of rice is grown across the globe each year, yet thirty percent of it is wasted during the growing process – enough to easily end world hunger on its own!
Wastage is caused when producers try to meet demand, using traditional rice growing methods such as sun drying, or tending farms with cattle driven machinery and using old rice bags and other resources to harvest and transport the grain. Poverty is the root cause of the problem, because the average farmer just doesn’t have the money to invest in the machinery needed to do the work more efficiently. Rice Inc. target the problem by working towards the Sustainable Rice Platform in the mill and on the farm, equipping the farmers with better technology and ensuring fairer prices through direct trade. Over two million meals of rice have been saved as a result and more than two hundred and fifty farmers have been impacted by these improvements.
Photo: Stephen Du from Beams Coffee answering a question
from the audience after Herman Wong presented
Photo: The Food Made Good Members testing their knowlegde with a quiz at the end of the event
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 that let them introduce small but significant changes to their sourcing choices, menu design and supplies. We will be organising talks delivered by sustainable food industry leaders, on various themes linked to UN International Days and our three pillars – Sourcing, Society and the Environment.
Photo: Heidi Yu-Spurrell speaking at the meet-up event at Tell Camellia
Photo: The delicious danishes kindly provided by the Island Shangri-La
A big thank you to Gagan at Tell Camellia for his gracious hospitality and delicious tea! A big thank you again to Island Shangri-La for providing the delicious pastries for the group to enjoy! There was so much to learn from our speakers this month, a big thank you to all of them again: to Herman Wong, co-founder of Beams Coffee and Kisum Chan the co-founder of Rice Inc. . As always we also want to thank InvestHK and Fresh Accounting for making this event possible.
Stay tuned for upcoming member events.