By Jade Chen
Set in the cosy interiors of SpiceBox Organics Tsueng Kwan O, the venue for October’s monthly meet-up is close to our hearts. In addition to being the meet-up’s generous host, SpiceBox Organics is also a founding Member of Food Made Good HK. The company’s founder, Punam Chopra, will be a speakers at today’s meetup on the topic of Waste No Food.
Before the meet-up officially begins, guests take the opportunity to catch up, sharing the latest news amid rows of spices, coffee beans and other wholesome ingredients. Soon, the room is alive with chatter, another fruitful gathering.
Attentive audience at the SpiceBox Organics Tsueng Kwan O shop
Hungry for change
An estimated one-third of total food produced globally is wasted. Accounting for roughly 8% of the world’s emissions, this could otherwise be used to feed billions of people. In Hong Kong, where 3353 tonnes of food is thrown into landfills daily, food waste has a much bigger impact than we think. When throwing food away, we waste the resources used to produce it including land, water and energy. As food decomposes in landfills, it harms the environment by releasing greenhouse gases such as methane into the atmosphere.
As for solutions? There are many, but the first step is always prevention. This means preventing food waste in the first place which can be done through planning, conducting an audit, or looking at components such as spoilage and trimmings. Innovative solutions exist. SpiceBox Organics, for example, chooses ingredients that can be used in more than one dish. The Hari, another FMG Member, works with local enterprise Eco-Greenergy to turn coffee grounds into compost, soap, mosquitos coil and dye. Food waste can be addressed, this month’s meet-up is dedicated to showing Members how.
Healthy plant-based nibbles from the cafe’s menu
Spilling the beans
Before this month’s speakers share their insights, we first hear from our guests. When asked the challenges of food waste management, biggest concerns are cost, time, space and convenience. To learn how businesses can address these, we invite Punam to share her experiences.
Launched back in 2012, SpiceBox Organics is a combined market and café, that aim to inspire conscious choices by distributing healthy, environmentally-friendly food. To illustrate how it addresses food waste, Punam shares the example of a favourite menu item: the cafe’s daily soups. Made using whatever ingredients staff can find, SpiceBox Organics’ delicious soups incorporate ingredients such as broccoli stems that would otherwise gone to waste. The trick, Punam explains, is to be creative and keep the menu exciting with different flavours and ingredients.
Another simple solution is being inventive with snack making. By making cookies and crackers in-house, SpiceBox Organics can control batch sizes, reducing food waste while satisfying diners’ sweet tooth. And of course, teamwork makes the dream work; Punam believes in supporting local producers and working with partners such as Phenix, another FMG Member, to fight food waste.
Much more is to come. One of SpiceBox Organics’ most exciting initiatives is a new spice blend which will be launched soon in citys’uper. Packaged in a compostable tube, it is the outcome of two years of hard work as Punam was determined to make it as sustainable as possible.
Heidi Spurrell, Andy Kwan, Sheldon Fonseca & Punam Chopra
Grabbing a bite
Up next is a different perspective on food waste as we welcome Soren Lascelles from Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. As a new Food Made Good HK Member, the hotel has made a great start, and we invite Soren to share some of the food waste management initiatives they have already implemented.
The first is a partnership with local foundation FoodLink through which leftover food items are turned into meals for those in need. Another is the addition of live cooking stations to the hotel’s buffet restaurants. Thanks to these, dishes such as tempura, sushi and pan-seared foie gras can be made to order – ensuring that food stays fresh while minimising waste. Internal policies also play an important role, and staff are encouraged to have supper after their shifts, at any of the hotel’s buffet restaurants, to further reduce food waste.
Despite these efforts, some food waste inevitably remains – which is why Grand Hyatt Hong Kong has commenced food waste collection with Green Council that turns food waste into biogas for renewable energy or compost for agricultural use.
Another new development is a full-cycle partnership between the hotel and New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association. By providing it with coffee grounds and lobster shells to turn into compost and use as organic fertiliser, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong contributes to the growth of helps the association’s to grow organic vegetables which it then buys back and uses in its own kitchens.
Soren Lascelles presenting the food waste management efforts of Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
Talking it through
Food Made Good Members HK are always eager to learn. After another spirited Q&A session, guests mingle again, to discover something new. By brainstorming together, new ideas for creating a more sustainable food future are born. Click here to learn more about SpiceBox Organics and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.
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 introduce small but significant changes to their sourcing choices, menu design, supplies, and more. We will continue 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 InvestHK, our supporter, Fresh Accounting, our sponsor, and SpiceBox Organics for kindly hosting this event.