Last week saw the first meeting of our eminent Food Made Good Advisory Board and some lively discussion around how the F&B industry in HK can shift towards a more sustainable food future.
Of particular interest was sharing the ‘business case’ for committing to operating businesses more sustainably. Of course, it is of no debate that all of our Advisory Board and our 25+ founder members have an indisputable passion for the planet and making food good, regardless of the business case.
But what about those businesses in HK, especially given the current pressure that hospitality is under, who are concerned that operating more sustainably will increase their costs, at a time when business is trying to reduce overheads?
We have good news! This is an ideal time to take stock of where your business is going, re-examine motivations and goals, scrutinise business operations and even better news, operating sustainably can actually SAVE COSTS. Your CFO will be delighted!
By taking some cost-and-planet-saving measures, not only will you build greater loyalty with those customers who care, but you will be recognised as a business that is committed to doing better business and the bottom line will thank you too.
Here are just a few examples of how you can make immediate cost-savings by taking a more planet-friendly approach:
FACT: Energy saving will reduce electricity bills
- The biggest impact on your energy bill will be created by turning ‘up’ the air conditioning a few degrees. Evidence shows that for every 1 degree the a/c is turned up, electricity consumption of the a/c equipment is reduced by 3%. See for yourself. Take one venue, for two weeks. Use the meter to set a one-week current benchmark and then turn a/c to around 25 degrees for one week and use the meter to assess the results. Boost this further by turning off lights and other equipment during off peak.
FACT: Managing food waste will reduce food costs
- Carefully monitoring food waste in your operation will immediately reduce food purchasing costs. Our 6 week audit helps you to not only train your front and back of house, but to create buy-in for them to value and understand the need to reduce food waste to landfill, as well as how to calculate savings if food is managed well. We consider the socio-cultural, environmental and economic aspects of trying to shift mind-sets.
FACT: Serving better quality meat does not need to increase food bills
The impact of the coronavirus has created global awareness of the need to understand the provenance of our meat and to demand complete transparency regarding the origins and treatment of our food.
- We know that responsibly-sourced meat will cost more. It is because large businesses can command cheap prices, driving down the prices of meat, which has led to intensive low animal welfare farming practices, creating many of the environmental problems we have today; polluting our waterways and air, and putting a strain on our forests to grow animal feed. But we can still eat meat; ‘less and better’ is our mantra. Meat should be a treat! Purchasing better quality meat from responsible sources and serving smaller portions will not only be better for our bodies, but better for animal-welfare, the environment and with minimal impact on food bills.
- Given that China pork prices rose by 101% year on year in November 2019, looking to new suppliers, or experimenting with plant-based alternatives, could also be a cost-effective option
FACT: Local purchasing reduces shipping costs and supports local livelihoods
- Searching for local alternatives to your imported goods, particularly fresh produce, will not only save on shipping costs but will reduce air miles too. Start small and see where you get. We can introduce you to transparent, smallholder farmers and local suppliers.
FACT: Limiting disposables will reduce costs immediately
- Do you offer disposable items that can be avoided? Cut costs on disposable straws, single-use wet wipes, condiment sachets, take out bags etc. Remove these items and supply them on demand only. Audit how much packaging you offer and if this can be completely avoided or reduced significantly. And for the remaining unavoidable items, the price of biodegradable alternatives is very competitive and will have minimal impact, if any, on purchasing cost.
Food Made Good offers its growing number of member businesses a wealth of resources including tool kits and programmes around sourcing, food waste management, valuing natural resources, re-usable equipment and many more, to help your business operate not just more sustainably, but more profitably too. Let’s not neglect the growing number of customers who favour businesses that ‘care’, especially the savvy Gen Zs and Millennials.
It’s the start of a New Year and a great time to make positive change for good!
Thanks to our Advisory Board members for their contributions at our inaugural Advisory Board Meeting, all who are leaders in the quest for more sustainable F&B in Hong Kong, including Peggy Chan of Grassroots Initiatives, Richard Ekkebus of Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, Sonalie Figueiras, Green Queen, Benjamin So from HK Sustainable Seafood Coalition, Suzanne Storms from the International Culinary Institute and our academic experts; Susan Evans and Daisy Tam, all chaired by Jo Soo-Tang, of HK Adventist Hospital Foundation.