By Sarah-Jane Tucker

Right now the world continues to lose its rainforests at an alarming rate and intensive agricultural food production is the main driver. Meeting the global appetite for cheap food costs us all our natural habitats, ecosystems, water and the soils of our earth. 

Every year, an area of rainforest 130 times the size of Hong Kong, is destroyed for grazing land according to WWF. As food producers cut down forests and natural  habitat to clear vast areas for farm land and pasture, everyone – from the local communities witnessing the devastation of their land and livelihoods – to the global population experiencing the consequences of global warming, are feeling the effects.

Conservation Impact Director for WWF Asia Pacific, Alistair Monument

Conservation Impact Director for WWF Asia Pacific, Alistair Monument, joined us at our Sustainability Cocktail Meetup held at Limewood and supported by InvestHK this month, reminding us of the importance of addressing diet, food waste and also food production, if we are to maximise our potential to reverse the trend towards rainforest destruction and restore nature. By taking a look at our supply chain, we can make simple switches that actively encourage forest restoration by choosing sustainable food and sources. 

Palm oil provides an excellent case study to note, since it represents a sizable and growing share of the oil production market, traded globally for the purposes of both food and non food products. While existing palm oil production practices have devastated forests and wild animal populations, sustainable certification such as the RSPO Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil label, helps buyers to choose sustainably and make a valuable contribution to restoration projects at the same time. 

Purchasing sustainable products and ingredients for the kitchen also makes a difference to our members sustainability audits and two further speakers offered fresh ideas on new products becoming available.

Blair Crichton, Co-Founder of Karana

Co-Founder of Karana – Whole Plant, All Taste, Blair Crichton, identifies the lack of biodiversity within our food system as central to raising sustainable food businesses. He  reminds us that we only commonly consume 150 of the 30,000 edible plant species available on the planet. Whole plant based food companies are therefore working to provide alternatives to the heavily processed plant based commodity ingredients such as wheat, pea and soy,  by making other plant species commercially available. This is excellent news for chefs wishing to expand the diversity of their plant based menu offerings and those attending our event had the chance to experience the versatile Karana whole plant shredded pork, a jackfruit meat alternative which is popular in Asian cuisine.

Matt Reid, Co-founder of Maximal Concepts

Matt Reid, entrepreneur and co-founder of Maximal Concepts and the group’s flagship restaurant Mott 32, treated us to a clip from his inspirational latest film ‘ The Last Glaciers’ as well as sharing the launch of two Plastic Conscious brands launching in the Hong Kong market later this spring; both of which target the widely publicised environmental issue of single use plastic.

We can’t wait for this cost effective, guilt free green wrap, which breaks down faster than orange peel and is home compostable in less than 24 weeks. In addition sustainable ‘press lock’ bags will be commercially available. Matt is also introducing a bamboo fibre toilet paper and kitchen roll brand. Around 27,000 trees are flushed or sent to landfill every day, so it is remarkable how much deforestation is flushed down the loo, says Matt. In comparison, it takes just 120 days to grow a bamboo forest, making this a smart alternative to traditional toilet paper for companies with a real sustainability focus. Watch this space for announcements.

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

A special dish made of jackfruit from Karana – created by Sebastián Comerso, Executive Chef of Maximal Concepts

Underpinned 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 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.

Heidi Spurrell from Food Made Good HK

Sindy Wong from InvestHK (left), Heidi Spurrell from Food Made Good HK (middle), Matt Reid from Maximal Concepts (right)

Game time!

Q&A Session

Thanks again to our brilliant speakers Alistair Monument, Blair Crichton and Matt Reid for their valuable contributions to our event. Thanks also to all the team at Limewood and Maximal Concepts for the wonderful hospitality and the delicious food and drinks.

Stay tuned for upcoming member events.