SPOTLIGHT: CARBON LABELLING PROGRAMME WITH TREEHOUSE
The Carbon Labelling Programme, launched as a partnership between Future Green (formerly Food Made Good HK) and Henderson Land Group early this year features some of Hong Kong’s star F&B leaders. Bells ring in our heads at the mention of “sustainability” and “food”. With its environment centred mantra of “One with Nature”, Treehouse, a leader in Hong Kong’s sustainable F&B scene is paving the way in defining true quality and plant-forward food. Months after the launch of carbon labels into its menus across 3 outlets in Hong Kong, I sit down with Christian Mongendre, Founder of Treehouse, to discuss the carbon labelling programme, Hong Kong’s consumer decisions, and Future Green’s role in building awareness for future generations.
THE TREEHOUSE PHILOSOPHY
Treehouse was founded in 2019 with unique offerings specialising in high quality whole foods and highly customisable foods appealing to diets of all kinds. With a strong commitment for planet-friendly practices, Christian chose plant-based food for Treehouse to further showcase their dedication to planet-friendly food. Its menu serves unprocessed whole foods free from preservatives, refined sugars, food dyes, trans-fats and more. The purpose-driven agenda at Treehouse is also well communicated through their flagship stores, delivering warm wooden interiors alongside dedicated composting stations and recycling bins. Treehouse’s mission is clear – to encourage Hong Kong’s consumers to prioritise our physical health and planetary health.
HOW HAS TREEHOUSE’S SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES IMPACTED HONG KONG’S CONSUMERS?
Serving as an educational tool for the community, Treehouse’s carbon labelled menu is a plight for community awareness on food emissions. Each dish (topping, on the Treehouse menu) is labelled with one of three icons, indicating low, medium or high climate impact. Future Green enables this initiative by using an ISO 14040-certified life cycle assessment methodology for carbon footprint calculations and Klimato, their data partner with an extensive database of average carbon footprints covering various food items.
Each of Treehouse’s toppings on its menu features a climate-impact label, communicating the emission intensity of different foods to customers.
This initiative showcases Treehouse’s commitment to a sustainability practice beyond supply chain and operations. In addition to prioritising a transparent supply chain in sourcing ingredients for quality, sustainability and freshness, Treehouse also sets the benchmark for food composting, eco-friendly packaging for its meal boxes and waste management.
Despite this, Hong Kong’s consumers are slow maturing in their awareness and prioritisation of quality and sustainability when making food choices. When it comes to price points, quality ingredients and an emphasis on sustainability, wider education by organisations, restaurants and industry leaders are essential to shifting consumer behaviour. “The main reason why people are interested is because the food tastes good, or if it is high quality… only an extremely small market of customers are mindful of our sustainable practices,” laments Christian.
PARTNERING WITH FUTURE GREEN TO BRING AWARENESS THROUGH ACTION
While we have a long way to go in seeing sustainable F&B practices being prioritised by consumers, Christian believes that education and communication plays a big role in narrowing knowledge gaps. The call to action is on awareness campaigns, lobbying the government for more incentives and bringing more businesses together for greater impact. When it comes to initiatives such as carbon labelling menus, a little goes a long way in shifting mindsets and drawing awareness in the evolving food industry.
Future Green’s role is well defined in this arena, as Christian suggests. “I think Future Green focuses a lot on the educational part of the business, bringing awareness and encouraging people to take such action. It’s many more things (in which) our collaboration can achieve.”
Acknowledging that today’s Hong Kong consumers are deterred from paying the premium for quality, Christian is optimistic about the increased awareness through education and the environmentally minded future generation. “The new generation are raised in a world where they are being told that there are limited resources, and they get it from the get go. I think that consumer base, when they start voting with their dollars and choosing businesses that care versus businesses that are just operating by profit, that’s when the tipping point is going to happen.”
“Future Green’s key role to play is to bridge the knowledge gaps within Hong Kong’s consumer base. Awareness campaigns, lobbying the government and seeing how more businesses can be brought together to bring larger impact”
THE FUTURE OF TREEHOUSE AS A MARKET LEADER IN PLANT-BASED FOODS
While Treehouse has ambitious plans to expand its business late this year and early 2024, the team is determined to scale by prioritising its maintenance of quality, supply chain management and waste management. This makes it all a part of Treehouse’s DNA, as said by Christian. Keeping in mind the constraints of reality and its brand’s core philosophy, Christian and his team are well set out on their goals for the future. “We are continually working towards the ideal that we have, while still operating within the reality of what we can do today. This is the guiding force on what we are able to focus on.”
Interested in more?
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