Feeding Hong Kong survey estimates
HK$200 million’s worth of food is wasted during Chinese New year
January 17th, 2023 As the Year of the Rabbit approaches, Hong Kong citizens will get together for banquets and exchange presents. According to an online poll conducted by food bank Feeding Hong Kong, 40% of respondents indicated they had unfinished food after their celebrations last year. At the same time, 60% had leftovers during their New Year’s meals. It is estimated that nearly HK$200 million worth of food from celebratory meals will be sent to landfill. Feeding Hong Kong calls on the public to reduce food waste by paying attention to portion size when ordering meals, packing leftover food, and taking care not to buy too much food this New Year.
Feeding Hong Kong conducted an online survey with 550 respondents at the end of last year, and asked about respondents’ habits when purchasing food and snacks, and having new year meals.
77.9% of interviewees buy food for New Year celebrations, including pastries, nuts, and sweets, mostly for personal consumption (85.7%). They also give food as gifts to family and friends (72.9%) and to work partners (17.6%). The majority of respondents (about 80%) said they have given or received food as a gift.
40% of respondents said they had leftover Chinese New Year food last year, for reasons such as not preferred product or receiving too many gifts. 78.9% said they would give the unconsumed food to others in their household, 30% said they would throw it away, and just 17.3% would donate it to charity. Nearly 40% said they do not want to receive food as New Year’s presents, and more than 60% said giving presents at New Year is unnecessary, as it is a waste of money and food. Those who like giving out gifts do so to maintain traditions and etiquette – these gifts do not have to be food items.
The questionnaire also aimed to understand dining habits during the New Year. 84.7% eat in groups for celebration, and the average spending per respondent is about HK$2,570. Despite the money spent, more than 60 percent have leftovers at New Year’s meals, mainly because they over-ordered and to cater to the tradition of “may there be surplus all year round.” Some said the dishes ordered at the restaurants did not suit their taste and it is not possible to select portion size when ordering set meals. Feeding Hong Kong predicts that roughly HK$200 million worth of food is sent to landfill during the Chinese New Year, based on the proportion of the number of respondents, the percentage of leftovers, and the money spent.
Feeding Hong Kong Community Engagement Director Fanny Lee recognises that Chinese New Year traditions have always been important to the Hong Kong people. This is especially true when the borders are now open again, and people are keen to gather with family and friends. It is expected that food and gift consumption will also increase.
Recent municipal waste figures released by the Environmental Protection Department show that the quantity of food waste has increased during the COVID-19 outbreak. The situation is worrying.
“Food waste is a big environmental concern,” said Fanny Lee, Community Engagement Director of Feeding Hong Kong. “At the same time, around one-quarter of Hong Kong’s population lives under the poverty line and struggles to have nutritious meals everyday. Food manufacturers, the catering sector, and the general public all have a responsibility to address food waste. Producing and delivering food consumes a lot of resources, and these resources should be used to support those in need, not squandered.”
To reduce food waste during the celebration, Feeding Hong Kong suggests giving food that has a longer shelf life as a gift. The public can also donate food which does not fit their needs but is still in good condition to charities. We encourage everyone to check the number of people and their preferences when preparing or ordering meals. Let’s also consider whether it is necessary to deliberately prepare too much food to cater to the traditions of “having surplus”. Make sure to pack the leftovers for another meal if one cannot finish.
Feeding Hong Kong encourages the public to donate noodles, supermarket vouchers and casual chain restaurant vouchers to support more than 150 of our charity partners and spread care to the underprivileged during the Chinese New Year.
- We welcome donations of food that still has a shelf life of two months or more
- Don’t donate food items which are unlabeled, already opened, or perishable items. Make sure that canned food items aren’t rusty or broken.
Our food collection points: https://staging.feedinghk.org/cny-food-drive-2023/
Kevin So, Feeding Hong Kong Marketing and Communications Assistant | O: 35652562 | M: 55977785
Fanny Lee, Feeding Hong Kong Community Engagement Director | O:22056163 | M: 97726019
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