Hong Kong restaurants focusing on commercial survival over sustainability
Hong Kong food and beverage companies have put commercial survival in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic ahead of sustainability, according to Renee Lam, the coordinator of the Hong Kong Sustainable Seafood Programme, which is underwritten by the ADM Capital Foundation.
Nonetheless, the Hong Kong Sustainable Seafood Program is pushing forward with a sustainable seafood campaign targeted at the city’s high-end restaurants. Over 30 restaurants and hotels – many multinational chains or hotels – in Hong Kong and Macau have committed to serving sustainably and responsibly sourced seafood between 6 and 12 June, in honor of World Oceans Day on 8 June.
Among the participants in the upcoming event are Somm & Mo Bar at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental and omnichannel dining concept KIN Food Halls, which serve Best Aquaculture Practices-certified king salmon and Aquaculture Stewardship Council-certified yellowtail sourced from farms in New Zealand and Australia.
“Local firms have just embarked on their sustainability journey. In fact, they have shown immense interest in joining our campaign, but were unable to as COVID measures have hit the F&B industry very hard, rendering survival to be the priority for quite a number of F&B industry members,” Lam said.
Lam said a survey by Choose Right Today showed around 7 percent of Hong Kong restaurant outlets are currently able to provide sustainable seafood, meaning they serve seafood certified by the Best Aquaculture Practices, Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council programs ,or have membership in the Hong Kong Sustainable Seafood Coalition, founded in 2019 with the goal of improving sourcing practices in the region.
“There is actually no definitive answer [to what percentage is sustainable] … due to a number of reasons, such as the prevalence of [illegal, unreported, and unregulated] fishing, a lack of information and data on incoming seafood products, and the lack of governmental definition of what is sustainable,” Lam said.
Hong Kong boasts a per-capita seafood consumption rate of 66.5 kilograms, three times the global average, making it a ripe target for a seafood sustainability campaign, Lam said.
Photo courtesy of Somm & Mo Bar