Starbucks Hong Kong and OmniFoods have teamed up to create a festive menu item. The Omni Golden Fillet Ciabatta will be the fourth collaboration between the two food industry giants. Powered by the OmniSeafood Golden Fillet, the sandwich comes after the success of the Thai Style OmniFoods Crab Cake salad the QSR debuted in November 2021.
Starbucks has used OmniFoods products across its Mainland China and Philipines stores since 2020. It is now solidifying the partnership in Hong Kong. Starbucks is using local knowledge of the robust appetite for seafood dishes to ensure products will be in demand.
Stacking the successes
In November, Starbucks launched a new Starbucks Hong Kong plant-based menu item with Green Monday’s OmniFoods food tech arm, a Thai-style salad showcasing an Omni Crab Cake as the main component and served with a separate dressing. Fish sauce was one of the ingredients in the dressing, but vegan diners had the option to discard it. Now, a new seafood alternative has hit the roster.
The Omni Golden fillet Ciabatta sandwich, which can be heated up, features Omni’s golden-coated plant-based fish fillet, akin to a Fish’n’Chips texture. It is part of the Chinese New Year festive menu from Starbucks dubbed “New Year. New Era!”
“So excited about this milestone collaboration with Starbucks Hong Kong with the launch of Omni Golden Fillet, empowering everyone towards a healthy and sustainable lifestyle with OMNI impact!” David Yeung, co-founder and CEO of OmniFoods said in a statement.
The sandwich costs HKD54 (approx. USD$7) and is available now across all 170 Starbucks Hong Kong stores. The sandwich comes just in time for Veganuary, the UK-founded initiative to drive dietary change by embracing plant-based foods. The ciabatta bread is not vegan-friendly and the sandwich contains egg mayonaise so the dish is not suitable for vegans.
Starbucks and its plant-based consumers
Despite catering to flexitarians and vegans in Hong Kong and other markets, Starbucks has had a fractious relationship with plant-based customers elsewhere. Most recently, it has come under scrutiny for its continued application of a non-dairy milk surcharge. The issue was highlighted by a recent hoax carried out by the U.S. nonprofit Switch4Good.
Earlier this week, Starbucks U.K revealed that it is dropping the surcharge for plant milk. The removal will apply at every location in the country, beginning January 5. No comment was released regarding the prior spoof announcement to the same effect. Nor was there any acknowledgment of accusations of dietary racism.
Prejudice against plant-based products
Dietary racism has been highlighted as an underpromoted issue. It relates to the indisputable fact that BIPOC communities witness higher levels of lactose intolerance than white ones. According to Switch4Good, up to 95 percent of BIPOC consumers suffer some level of intolerance to lactose. By adding a surcharge for milk that is chosen for health reasons, discrimination comes into play.
McDonald’s came under fire last year when it added oat milk to its Australian McCafé menu, with a surcharge included. Partnering with domestic brand MILKLAB, the news of an oat milk option was initially celebrated. One of the most popular plant milk options, it is widely regarded as a better choice for hot drinks. The addition of a surcharge soured the collaboration for some vegan McDonald’s customers in Australia.
Correction: an earlier version of this article suggested that the sandwich could be make vegan by omitting the mayonnaise but the ciabatta bread is not vegan-friendly so the sandwich is not suitable for vegans.
Lead Image courtesy of Green Monday/OmniFoods.