A call for sustainable change in Asia Pacific

February 24, 2017
3 min read

The world has been experiencing a boom in sustainable seafood. Earlier this year, a trio of restaurants situated at Sydney’s Northern Beaches committed to exclusively use fisheries, wholesale supplies and fish species that are sustainable. This initiative – which will focus on the certification and labelling of the seafood – is a joint pilot project between the restaurants, their local council and Marine Stewardship Council.

In a similar fashion, the Philippines recently held its second Sustainable Seafood Week. An initiative by a small group of hotels, restaurants, retailers and NGOs, Sustainable Seafood Week is a week-long festival of workshops, dinners and activities to help build public awareness of sustainable seafood.

Think before you eat

The decision to provide more transparency, as well as encourage customers to make sustainable choices, is part of a wider trend where people are putting more thought and care into what they’re consuming.

According to Mintel Trend “Hungry Planet”, as the world has developed a throwaway culture, the strain on the planet’s food resources is becoming increasingly obvious. However, many are now learning the impact that irresponsibly sourced food, and the careless wastage of food, can have on the environment.

Food wastage has been a current topic in Asia Pacific; aware of the effects food wastage has on the environment, a group of volunteers in Singapore have teamed up with Starbucks to distribute unsold food to construction workers.

Another growing concern is the number of food scares in the news worldwide. Consumers are starting to be hyper aware of their food sources and brands have undertaken initiatives to showcase the safety, cleanliness and ethical standards for them. Some companies across the world have launched services that allow consumers to track the origins of produce. In Australia, Lilydale Free Range introduced traceable chicken packs that feature unique codes, which can be used to trace the journey of the chicken back to its farm of origin.

With growing concerns about the environmental impact of farming animals (like cows for meat), consumers are looking for alternative food sources, which brings to life the consumption of insects – an increasingly popular protein alternative to meat. Late last year, a pop-up diner featuring local ingredients and insects launched at Sheepshank Public House in Thailand. The festive menu at the low-carbon pop-up featured various dishes including soybean and cricket pasta, and mushroom fritti with silkworm cilantro dip. This initiative aimed to raise awareness of the benefits of eating local produce and alternative protein sources.

Rounding it all up

The move to ensure the sustainability of fish served in restaurants in Australia makes sense for a country so enamoured with seafood. The same can be said of the Philippines, a country reported to have seen a rise in endangered fish species and also suffering from overfishing, which brings attention to the need to inspire behavioural change among the fishing community.

While more and more consumers are interested in where their food is coming from and how sustainable the practices are – something which retailers will need to adapt to – it is important not to ostracise those who are not as concerned by overwhelming them with information. Providing a guiding choice for informed consumers is critical, but brands should stay away from overdoing the messaging.

Delon Wang is the Trends Manager, Asia Pacific at Mintel. He oversees Trends content and Trends client servicing for the region.

Delon Wang
Delon Wang

Delon is Trends Manager, Asia Pacific at Mintel. He oversees Trends content and Trends client servicing for the region.

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