Hospitality Industry's Thoughts on Sustainable Seafood Procurement
Climate Change as well as the current pandemic is prodding many of us to relook at our eating habits. Consumers' attitude towards food while eating out in hotels or restaurants, is also changing as they are now putting greater emphasis on environment friendly practices. This along with other factors, is prompting the hospitality industry to seriously look at its sustainable practices, including, food procurement especially seafood.
But the answer to sustainability in seafood procurement is much trickier. There are many roadblocks which hinder the process. The issue of transparency is a big one. Studies suggest that at least a quarter of seafood is illegally caught, unreported or unregulated and 40% of it is mislabelled. Seafood traceability is another important factor for ensuring sustainable fishing practices. Yet tracing seafood back to its origin is a challenging task due to the complex supply chain.
With the aim of bringing these issues to the fore and facilitating a dialogue between various hospitality stakeholders, we hosted an invitation-only Think Tank, “Traceability of Seafood: Innovative Procurement” on 23rd November 2021. Supported by a grant from the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission* and sponsored by Eaton Club, the think tank provided a platform for connections and deliberations on the subject amongst hotels, restaurants, suppliers and innovators, with the objective of discussing possible solutions to the sustainable seafood traceability roadblocks.
Moderated by Ms. Lucia Loposova, the Executive Director of GREEN Hospitality, the event participants included chefs and sustainability experts from well-known hotels and restaurants including Hyatt Regency, Mandarin Oriental, Langham Hospitality, Meraki Hospitality, Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels, Common Abode etc and representatives from supply chains like M&C Asia, Pacific Rich Resources as well as the Head of Tourism and Hospitality from Invest Hong Kong.
Ms. Loposova presented the main theme of the session and introduced Mr. George Woodman, Director, Seafood Marketplace, as the co-facilitator. In the ensuing discussion, most participants, besides agreeing to the issues stated above, also highlighted mislabelling, certification credibility and carbon footprint as major causes of concern. There was a consensus on both the challenges as well as the need for better solutions towards the procurement.
Mr. Woodman shared details about his soon to be launched procurement tool, which he along with his team are developing to make seafood tracing easier, address the issue of seafood misidentification and to improve the communication between buyers and suppliers. A prototype of a sustainable seafood sourcing platform was showcased to the participants as a possible solution to address their concerns as well as to get feedback.
Even though this solution was welcomed by the participants, especially the chefs, they also expressed their need for a more comprehensive procurement tool which includes not one but other items such as meat, vegetables and even textiles.
In conclusion, the think tank discussion demonstrated that there is a huge interest in the industry on the subject and there is a clear desire to find solutions that are not only convenient and cater to just one kind of sustainable food procurement but a whole range of it.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material/event (or by members of the project team) do not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Innovation and Technology Commission or the General Support Programme Vetting Committee of the Innovation and Technology Fund.
在本刊物/活動內 (或由項目小組成員) 表達的任何意見、研究成果、結論或建議,並不代表香港特別行政區政府、創新科技署或創新及科技基金一般支援計劃評審委員會的觀點。