Why and How a Furniture Giant Tackles Food Sustainability - In Conversation with Leona Ho | WWF Hong Kong

Why and How a Furniture Giant Tackles Food Sustainability - In Conversation with Leona Ho



Posted 23 January 2018
Why and How a Furniture Giant Tackles Food Sustainability - In Conversation with Leona Ho
Why and How a Furniture Giant Tackles Food Sustainability - In Conversation with Leona Ho
© Leona Ho
Leona Ho is responsible for Food Safety and Sustainability at IKEA Hong Kong, the Scandinavian furniture store with an interesting sideline in food. Ho has both a Higher Diploma in Food Science and Technology and a BSc (Hons) in Food Science and Nutrition.

Q1. IKEA has made a commitment to sourcing only sustainable seafood. Why is this a concern for the company?

Globally, 90% of fish stocks are fully exploited or overexploited, which means action needs to be taken to ensure there will still be something on the menu for everyone in the near future.

Although IKEA is better-known as a furniture company, and catering represents only a relatively small portion of our core business, we want to be a responsible business, and responsible seafood sourcing is a natural contribution to our company vision and at the same time it means we can bring our customers quality food.

Q2. IKEA has put a great deal of effort into conserving the world’s biological resources. Could you share some of your initiatives and best practice?

As you’ve noticed, IKEA has been committed to selling and serving ASC- or MSC-certified seafood. This initiative makes responsibly produced seafood species available to over 600 million customers in 47 markets, offering our customers more delicious, healthy and sustainable food at affordable prices. By far, this is one of our best practices in conserving the world’s biological resources.

Moreover, we only serve coffee, cocoa and tea that have been certified by third parties and these products are therefore traceable all the way to the plantation. Customers can be sure that these products care for people and the environment. We also  have an initiative to cut food waste in our food operations by 50% by the end of fiscal year 2020. Simply put, food waste is measured and reported in IKEA restaurants, bistros and Swedish Food Markets through a smart scale solution. Then we use the collected data to identify ways to prevent food being thrown away.

Q3. IKEA is renowned for its competitive pricing strategy, meaning that cost is one of the main concerns in procurement. Is there a big price difference between sustainable seafood and non-sustainable seafood? How do you take balance between cost and sustainability?

At IKEA, affordability is part of our identity. Seafood that is MSC-certified is already available from many suppliers today in most markets, and the purchase price for MSC-certified fish is not  impacted by the certification. As prices in Hong Kong are very competitive, certified fish is not necessarily more expensive than other unsustainable seafood choices.

Although growing, the supply of ASC-certified salmon is still limited, especially in Hong Kong. Despite higher purchase costs for now, IKEA has decided to only serve and sell salmon from ASC-certified sources. We are convinced that acting as a responsible company also contributes to a profitable business.

Q4. How do you communicate the sustainable seafood commitment to your staff? Do staff members support this mission?

Co-workers at IKEA share one vision “to create a better everyday life for the many people”. How we realise this vision is based on our shared humanistic values, including caring for people and the planet. In training our co-workers, we use videos, banners, posters and open conversations to make sure all our co-workers understand the benefits of providing and using sustainable seafood so we work towards the same vision.

Q5. Do you receive customer feedback on sustainable seafood? Do you think customer awareness of seafood sustainability is gradually increasing?

By far, selling and serving sustainable seafood is one of our best practices and we have been hearing from our customers that they appreciate this commitment. We’ve noticed increased awareness of sustainable seafood in the market, yet there is still room to grow. We’ll continue to create a positive impact for people and the planet with our vision of creating a better everyday life for the many.
Why and How a Furniture Giant Tackles Food Sustainability - In Conversation with Leona Ho
Why and How a Furniture Giant Tackles Food Sustainability - In Conversation with Leona Ho
© Leona Ho Enlarge