Financial services giant KPMG has entered the sustainable seafood initiative in Hong Kong, backing WWF’s B2B-focused campaign on sourcing.
WWF has dropped its annual scorecard ranking Hong Kong retailers for efforts to improve sustainability and has launched a new Sustainable Seafood Business Membership Program, funded by the KPMG Foundation.
The program aims to increase the accessibility of sustainable seafood by linking suppliers, restaurants, and retailers across Hong Kong, which has Asia’s second-highest seafood consumption per capita at 66 kilograms. Due to its outsized consumption totals, Hong Kong has become a focus of consumer-focused seafood sustainability efforts.
The new WWF program “solves persistent challenges the [food and beverage] industry has faced in obtaining sustainable seafood supplier information by creating a consolidated information portal for members,” WWF-Hong Kong CEO Nicole Wong said. “This portal includes a real-time sustainable seafood e-directory, providing restaurants and retailers a quick and easy way to look for more sustainable choices. The sustainability of all products listed on the platform is assessed and verified by WWF-Hong Kong.”
Among the founding members of the Sustainable Seafood Business Membership Program are several of the retailers which featured in the scorecard, including the City Super and the CK Hutchinson conglomerate’s Parknshop chain – with more than 300 outlets, as well as the local arm of the Japanese retailer Aeon. The retail chains operated by the conglomerate Jardine Matheson are not yet a part of the campaign.
New Bon Marine (HK) Limited, Qwehli Limited, Worldwide Seafood Limited, and Hai Sang Hong Marine Foodstuffs are among the suppliers involved in the campaign. Two hotel chains, Sheraton Hong Kong and Le Méridien Hong Kong, are listed as founding members, as are well-known restaurant groups Café de Coral Holdings and Tam Jai International, which operates Chinese restaurants.
The new WWF venture isn’t the only one of its kind. ChooseRightToday.org, a Hong Kong-focused website funded by the ADM Capital Foundation, lists retailers according to the presence of certified sustainable seafood. ADM also funds the Hong Kong Sustainable Seafood Coalition (HKSSC), which includes several hotel chains and retailers as well as distributors in its ranks. In its own campaign this month, the HKSSC organized a pledge by more than 30 restaurants – many of them multinational chains or part of hotel conglomerates – to serve sustainably and responsibly sourced seafood between 6 and 12 June in honor of Oceans Day.
Representatives of both HKSSC and WWF-Hong Kong told SeafoodSource there is much progress to be made in Hong Kong, though WWF’s annual scorecard appeared to yield some results since it was created in 2016. WWF said several of the nine major supermarket groups graded by the scorecard introduced annual targets regarding sustainable seafood and many stores had plans to improve their seafood labeling and traceability standards. However, several major retailers had did not engage with the initiative.
Additionally, WWF said a recent survey they conducted showed over half of the city’s consumers are more willing to buy seafood products recommended by environmental NGOs like WWF. WWF found a seafood guide for consumers updated in 2021 was popular and prompted calls from vendors for a similar guide for the B2B sector, according to WWF-Hong Kong Oceans Sustainability Program Director Gloria Lai. The WWF Seafood Guide ia now available online, or alternatively, consumers can look for the WWF sustainable seafood badge at the point of sale, Lai said.
“Our new business program and e-directory are the first of their kind in Hong Kong and provide unprecedented transparency across the supply chain,” she said.
A survey by ChooseRightToday.org suggested just 7 percent of Hong Kong restaurant outlets were able to provide verifiably sustainable seafood. Representatives of ChooseRightToday.org said there is a lack of information and data collected and disseminated by the Hong Kong government on sustainable seafood, which contributes to the low number.
Aside from promoting sustainability at the consumer level, KPMG is also working with WWF on the supply side, KPMG China Partner and KPMG Foundation Board Member Irene Chu said. Chu said the organization is working to support a mariculture pilot project in Hong Kong waters introducing ecologically sound and sustainable mariculture processes to “improve the sustainability and traceability of local farmed fish and support the development of more climate-resilient and sustainable landscapes and economies.”
“We hope this pilot project can be a showcase of how commercially viable nature-based solutions can be adapted in Hong Kong and potentially be scaled in the greater bay area in the future,” she said.
Sustainable seafood currently represents a small but growing portion of global fish production, according to WWF which estimated the market at 179 million tons worth approximately USD 400 billion (EUR 380 billion) in 2018.
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