MEMBERS MONTHLY MEETUP – EMBRACE BIODIVERSITY JANUARY 2024
A great turnout!
Adzuki beans, finger millet, and pumpkin leaves: the rising stars of today’s culinary scene. In Future Green’s first meetup of 2024, guests take a break from the bustle of the city to discuss the link between food and biodiversity and learn about some interesting new foods.
Heidi with the team at Swire Properties and our speaker Gigi Lau from Compass Group HK
Today, our global food system is the primary driver of global biodiversity loss. 75% of the world’s food comes from just 12 plant species and 5 animal species. Caffeine addicts and avocado toast lovers should be worried: coffee, chocolate and avocado are among the foods that may disappear in 20 years. This is why biodiversity— defined as the variety and variability of plants, animals, and microorganisms— is key to achieving a more sustainable food system.
The planetary boundaries represent the limits within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come
As of 2023, we have already transgressed 6 of 9 planetary boundaries that represent the limits of our Earth’s natural system. In a world where habitat destruction, climate change, and intensive farming practices threaten the global food system, conservation efforts are crucial to ensuring global food security.
For insight on how one company is embracing biodiversity, we invite Gigi Lau, Head of marketing and sustainability at Compass Group HK, to share Compass Group’s approach to sustainability.
Gigi Lau representing Compass Group HK
With over 70 client locations across HK, Compass Group HK has a huge impact. The group is committed to reaching climate net zero by 2050 and has adopted the EAT-Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Diet as a guide for plant-forward meals. Currently, its approach to menu design involves including at least one vegetarian dish daily (in every location, some small locations only offer 2 main dishes) and ensuring a 70-30 split between plant-based and animal protein.
On the education front, Gigi points to Compass Group HK’s “Know Your Food” campaign, which highlights seasonal ingredients. The campaign, which is developed by Compass Group HK’s growing team of nutritionists, aims to inform customers on the health and environmental benefits of seasonal foods. “Educating customers is more important than just offering a seasonal dish on the menu,” says Gigi. Communication is key, and customer engagement is critical to driving long-term change.
Participants engaging with today’s presentation
How cost-sensitive are clients becoming? When one participant asks how Compass Groups is coping with the higher associated costs of sustainable meals, Gigi shares a story about eggs. Locals in HK know that ham and egg sandwiches are a breakfast staple. Yet while trying to introduce cage-free eggs, Compass Group HK found that customers were unwilling to pay a $5 dollar premium. This is why it set up two counters: the first offering cage-free eggs, and the second offering ordinary eggs. Providing this option turns customers’ attention to the importance of animal welfare and encourages them to reconsider their food choices. At the end of the day, sustainability is a journey, and associated costs mean that the transition to more sustainable diets may happen gradually.
Following up on Compass Group HK’s goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030, one participant enquires about the group’s food waste reduction efforts. Gigi shares that, in addition to installing a food waste machine that measures and analyses food waste, the group ensures that waste in the preparation kitchen is categorised. This enables chefs to recognise where the most of the waste is generated and target their operations accordingly. At one location, a lot of plain rice was wasted and Gigi began brainstorming. Fried rice? Donations? The possibilities were endless, and the kitchen ended up donating leftover rice to Foodlink.
Plate waste is the next big challenge, and customers have started to notice it too. At some schools, teachers step in to reduce food waste and encourage students to finish their plates. Through incentives (colourful stickers which, according to Gigi, work very well), teachers have been changing student behaviours. Some students ask for smaller portions, whilst others take the chance to explore new, unfamiliar foods. Working with adults on plate waste is a bigger challenge.
To wrap up, guests from Sodexo, Swire, Spicebox Organics, InvestHK and more compete for a sustainable wine voucher from La Cabane in a fierce but informative round of Kahoot!. A winner emerges, discussions ensue and the first meetup of 2024 concludes with a bang!
Thanks to ESG Innovation Lab for hosting! A great turnout, including reps from Sodexo Hong Kong, Swire Group, Spicebox Organics, InvestHK, AIA
See you next month for our meet up on ‘Plant Forward and Less Meat’.
The Members Monthly Meetup Series is a monthly gathering designed to educate and empower the Hong Kong foodservice community — chefs, restaurateurs, FOH, BOH, suppliers and sustainability leads as well as everyone and anyone interested in food sustainability including schools, businesses, consultants and NGOs.