GreenPrice's CEO Terence Hon is Leading Hong Kong's Food Revolution
November 29, 2022
Hong Kong University graduate and entrepreneur Terence Hon is dead set on selling you food that other people don’t want with his social enterprise GreenPrice.
Born out of a need to rescue surplus from Hong Kong’s supermarket retailers and short-dated stock set to pass its “best before” date, GreenPrice wants to sell products that are perfectly consumable destined to be shelved to landfills.
"In Hong Kong, we mark our food, [beauty, health care, and housewares] products with two dates: best-before and expiration date,” Terence explained to The Beat Asia, “nothing of food quality in taste, texture, aroma, and appearance that has dropped but is suitable to eat, and items to avoid.”
Addressing the food wastage problem facing Hong Kong’s future, GreenPrice specialises in collecting surplus and “best-before” products from food suppliers, working with supermarkets to offload inventory to save from being dumped in a landfill.
Hong Kong’s landfills receive over 3,000 tonnes of food waste daily, while the city’s population struggles to afford basic groceries in the face of rising living costs. Terence sought to capitalise on a wish to provide Hong Kong with a platform to save food wastage, while also adding value to shoppers’ budgets.
By selling food close to its expiration date at discounts of 30 to 50% in seven stores across Hong Kong in high-traffic areas; namely in Central, Wan Chai, Quarry Bay, Sha Tin, Tseung Kwan O, Tsuen Wan, and Kwai Fong, Green Price is steadily gaining popularity with Hong Kongers conscious of sustainable eating and budgeting.
Graduating from the University of Hong Kong’s business school in 2019, Terence co-founded GreenPrice with fellow classmates Allison Chan, Ben So, and Cherissa Hung in spring 2016 as an entry in a university social innovation competition. The idea soon materialised into a standalone popup store in December 2016, located in Kwun Tong.
The group began with weekend market stalls selling a collection of products bartered from suppliers in 2016. The team operated from industrial buildings, and manned street stalls and pop-ups, before beginning to break ground on a chain of brick-and-mortar locations in neighbourhoods familiar with Western food redistribution platforms and showing favour for international products.
Initially, Terence founded GreenPrice performed poorly in low-income areas such as Sham Shui Po, which didn’t understand the concept of best before, and could not compete with cut-price shops, and led to assumptions of low price equalling low quality.
The CEO explained that the team sought to incubate GreenPrice within an online store. However, the need to demonstrate the concept and boost confidence with customers accelerated plans to open shopfront locations.
With a motto of “stop waste, best price,” Terence is resolute in educating his home turf on the best before concept. “Previously, not many people in Hong Kong understood what the best before date means. We are a decade behind the United Kingdom leading the fight to sell food that has dropped in quality but not in safety [to consume]. With a similar legal system in Hong Kong, we believed we could market this form of products to Hong Kongers to eat.”
Equally is he adamant to help cut food wastage and overfilling landfills in Hong Kong. With more than 800 SKUs (stock keeping units, scannable bar codes on product labels in retail stores) stocked at his eight stores, and 200 to 300 products added in the inventory year on year, GreenPrice redirects more than 2.5 million products from landfill annually to homes across the city.
Terence has begun to look overseas to export the GreenPrice concept across APAC. The team has begun sourcing inventory from Australia and Taiwan and wants to expand to open physical stores in Singapore, increasing the number of shops in Hong Kong.
“There's a lot of room for us to open stores, and we would like to support more communities across Asia to educate on this concept and reduce food waste continent-wide.”
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