The entrance to Nine Seafood Place, Whampoa
Today, as one of Asia’s most dynamic cities, with one of the biggest ports in the world, we are guaranteed to have on offer some of the freshest and tastiest catches, right on our doorstep. Hong Kong wouldn’t be the same without steamed fish, shrimp dumplings (har gow) and fish balls. It should be no surprise that our seafood consumption in Hong Kong is exceptionally high – per capita on average we consume 70.78kg of fish and other aquatic products per year, which is three times higher than the global average. This also places us as the world’s eighth-largest seafood consumer, and Asia’s second. Whilst we’re not ranked as high, we’re also big fans of fresh produce too – the population of Hong Kong consumed an average of 2,310 tons of fresh vegetables a day in 2018 and is ranked 57th out of 160 countries in terms of vegetable consumption per capita. With plant-based trends really taking off here, we have no doubt that this will only grow. However, for both of these products, whether you’re heading to our favourite restaurants or cooking our much-loved dishes at home, finding the right supplier is key.
We took a trip to Nine Seafood Place in Whampoa specifically to visit two unique stalls to see what they had in store. These two stalls (Shops 22B and 22C) have set up shop since 1 July 2020 – with the former (22B) operated by the Fish Marketing Organization (FMO) and selling local fisheries products, and the latter (22C) operated by the Vegetable Marketing Organization (VMO) and selling local agricultural products.
For those of you who are not familiar with the FMO and the VMO, they are both independent marketing organisations led by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in the HKSAR. The FMO, set up in 1945 promotes the wholesale fishing industry in Hong Kong. This is delivered by the provision of marine fish wholesaling facilities and services (see below), which promotes local fisheries products and supports local fisheries. They also provide a guarantee that the fish they sell is from clean waters that they test themselves. The VMO, set up just a year later in 1946 has similar objectives. They work to provide the community with a reliable and plentiful supply of safe and quality vegetables while facilitating the sustainable development of local agriculture.
|Examples of Produce Sold||
At Nine Seafood Place, a 50,000 square foot market set up in 2017, the focus is on providing seafood and vegetable produce. The venue is filled with various restaurants and shops, including a specialties store, a seafood corner and a 1,300 square foot private kitchen which is bookable in order to deliver workshops and cooking classes. FMO’s stand (22B) regularly runs workshops, though they are currently live streamed due to Covid-19. You can take a look at previous classes here.
Our visit to Nine Seafood Place was full of pleasant surprises. Firstly, the space kept the traditional market feel within the city, through the wide mix of stalls and continual bartering from the stall owners showcasing the products. However, unlike some of the older markets, the space felt clean, bright, airy and the alleyways were wide with ample storage underneath each of the individual stalls, which enabled visitors to flow through easily. This was also the case with the stall numbers projected on the back walls, as well as the display cards promoting the different products – keeping their tradition but also remaining clean and hygienic.
The VMO Stand (22C) at Nine Seafood Place, Whampoa
When you first walk into the market you are met by a series of bright fruit and vegetable stalls, including stalls selling fish balls, dumplings and other hotpot classics. Some of the delicious vegetables on offer at Shop 22C (the VMO stall) included aubergine, chinese cabbage, bitter cucumber and taro. We are also assured that vegetables sold at the VMO stall are grown locally in accredited farms (predominantly in the north-east of the New Territories) and safe for public consumption. This week the stall had promotional materials for local lemons and local sweet potato, as well as recipe suggestions to go with the products.
The FMO Stand (22B) at Nine Seafood Place, Whampoa
Just nextdoor, Shop no. 22B, part of the FMO, offered a variety of frozen seafood products, many of which display the Accredited Fish Farm Scheme (AFFS) logo, assuring consumers that fish has been cultured locally, in line with good aquaculture practices and with a transparent supply chain. Their very cool QR code on each package allows consumers to use their mobile phones to scan the sticker and obtain relevant information about the product – such as the origin of the fishery product, its safety test results and the contact number for the fish farm that supplied it. During our visit, Shop no. 22B had a promotion on Jade Perch, which also featured a recipe.
To us at Food Made Good, the ethical sourcing of fish and vegetables is key to a sustainable food system. The sourcing of fish by responsible methods which has been cultured in Hong Kong waters is important to uphold the sustainability of the product. Supporting local fishing and farming industries is important for various reasons: they support local economies, reduce the supply chain of products (minimising the environmental impact) and well as retain local cultural practices.
In addition to the multitude of stalls which are available, in case you’re not looking to pick up fish or groceries, visitors are welcome to check out the Japanese products such as cheesecake, meats, and a range of restaurants within the venue.
To get to FMO’s and VMO’s stores at Nine Seafood Place, simply take the MTR to Whampoa and you are helpfully signposted all the way along Tak Fung Street. Alternatively you can take multiple bus routes: 1R, 3B, 7B, 15, 85S, 85X, 268B, 269B, 297, 297P or Mini Bus routes: 2, 8, 13, 26.
To find out more about the promotions happening at 22B and 22C, take a look here: