Green eating: the Farm-to-Table movement in Hong Kong

Hong Kong needs to move from urban farming to farm-to-table, and this is where the commercial industry can step in.

August 02, 2022

In Hong Kong’s dense urban environment, agriculture as a primary industry accounts for only a minuscule part of the city’s economy. However, when viewed from another angle, the unique landscape of Hong Kong offers ample rooftop spaces, which may be the best places for urban farming. Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in a corporate rooftop-farming event at the top of Bank of America Tower in Central. We harvested the produce in the morning, and the fresh produce was used to make lunch for those in need. This is also how the farm-to-table movement works.

The movement refers to restaurants sourcing their ingredients directly from local farms. The demand for green food and plant-based products has been fast growing in Hong Kong. According to online food delivery company Deliveroo, Hong Kong has recorded a 160% growth in vegan orders from March 2020 to March 2021. Its recent survey also showed that 68% of consumers in Hong Kong are concerned about where their food comes from. Therefore, farm-to-table restaurants are gaining attention and momentum in the city.

With more and more shopping malls going green, urban farming can also be one of their sustainable practices. One example is K11 MUSEA, a prime shopping mall on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront with a cultural-retail concept. On its roof is the Nature Discovery Park, Hong Kong’s first urban biodiversity museum and sustainability-themed education park. It features tropical and native plants and offers farm-to-table experiences to visitors. Another example is the 13,000-sq ft urban farm on top of Metroplaza, a prime shopping mall in Kwai Chung. This farm is partnering with some restaurants in the mall to create healthy dishes using some of the farm's produce. These green malls have perfectly exemplified the convergence of retail and sustainability.

While developers are paying more attention to ESG (environmental, social and governance), Michelin Guide, one of the most popular restaurant guides, is also moving towards sustainability. Last year, it debuted its new emblem for sustainable gastronomy, the Michelin Green Star. This award recognises the efforts of restaurants which embrace sustainability in their day-to-day operations. The first restaurant in the city to receive the Michelin Green Star was Roganic Hong Kong. As one of the most representative farm-to-table restaurants in Hong Kong, their dishes feature produce sourced from local organic farms. Roganic also follows a zero-waste philosophy and reduces carbon footprint and plastic in their daily practices. Their commitments and endeavours in promoting food sustainability have led to remarkable achievements in the industry.

Like other cities, Hong Kong has a growing interest in sustainability and green dining. To achieve its sustainability ambitions, we need to move from urban farming to farm-to-table, which is where the commercial industry can step in. This can also be seen as an attraction in malls or offices, where one can experience nature amid the hustle and bustle.