Hutchison Whampoa

ParknShop still tossing out food

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2012, 12:00am

Major supermarket chain ParknShop continues to deny throwing away perfectly edible food, said campaigners for Friends of the Earth Hong Kong yesterday - as they displayed evidence to the contrary.

As the heat soared to over 34 degrees on one of Hong Kong's busiest thoroughfares, the piles of salad and vegetables wilted, but the bread looked in good condition.

The food covered about five square metres, laid out on black plastic bags in Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mong Kok.

The sight drew tuts of disgrace and shakes of the head from passers-by. Volunteers from Friends of the Earth also collected signatures for a petition demanding supermarkets stop wasting food.

'We're here today to show the public and have them judge for themselves if the food is really damaged or expired,' said Celia Fung Sze-lai, the group's environmental affairs officer.

Out on a family shopping trip, Memo Ng Ngok-pang stopped to view the spectacle along with his wife and two sons. 'It's so wasteful, so bad,' said the 46-year-old.

He wanted to see supermarkets donate their unwanted food to charity, but said he was unlikely to stop shopping at ParknShop. 'I work and it's simply too convenient,' he said, shrugging and looking somewhat apologetic.

'They have everything.'

Since the group reported back in May that four major supermarket chains were throwing out 29 tonnes of edible food a day, three of the chains - Wellcome, Jusco and CR Vanguard - have held talks with food banks Feeding Hong Kong and the People's Service Centre about how to put their unwanted food to good use.

At present, the amount of food not yet past its sell-by date that is thrown out would feed 48,000 families of three for a day.

Friends of the Earth says ParknShop - which is part of a retail arm of Hutchison Whampoa - is the only supermarket holding out. 'We've sent them all this material, but have yet to hear back from them about what they're doing. They just send us something saying they've got the material,' Fung said.

ParknShop could not be reached for comment, but a spokeswoman for the store said last month that it would not dump anything recklessly because wastage increased costs. She said the supermarket had contacted a few food banks and was investigating the safety and logistics of donating food.

St James' Settlement, one of 16 NGOs running food banks in the city, said 2,000 people used its facility in May, 400 more than usual. An Oxfam survey in 2011 found one in six Hongkongers had high food insecurity.


The amount of food, in tonnes, that Friends of the Earth says four local chains were throwing out each day during May