A recent undercover investigation by environmental nonprofit organization, WildAid, has led to the discovery of shark fin sales by local food & beverage titan, Maxim’s Caterers Limited, who had pledged in 2016 to discontinue serving the environmentally destructive product. According to SCMP, two women posing as prospective clients at Maxim’s Palace in Shun Tak Centre found documentary evidence in hidden recorded visits of a restaurant employee brandishing a separate menu, concealed from the public eye. Lavishly called “The Premium”, the secret shark fin menu was uncovered in multiple Maxim’s restaurants across the city.
Initiated by WildAid and backed by Sea Shepherd, the two global NGOs are seeking for Starbucks Corporation - who has a partnership with Maxim's to pressure the global coffee chain to cease shark fin sales indefinitely. Click To Tweet
Initiated by WildAid and backed by marine wildlife conservation organization, Sea Shepherd, the two global NGOs are seeking for Starbucks Corporation – who has a partnership with Maxim’s giving them full license for their operations in Hong Kong – to pressure the global coffee chain to cease shark fin sales indefinitely. “The shark fin industry is not limited to just the shark fin traders, but spans from the fisherman who killed the shark all the way to the restaurants that serve shark’s fin soup. By licensing Starbucks brand to Maxim’s Caterers Limited who openly sell shark’s fin on their menus, Starbucks has partnered with the shark fin trade itself,” says Gary Stokes, Asia Director for Sea Shepherd Global.
“This is a great PR opportunity to show leadership here by @Starbucks & #maxims of Hong Kong. Larry Fink at Blackrock would not be impressed as a potential investor with this type of easily solvable (and socially outdated) #environmental brand liability,” Ocean Recovery Alliance, the international NGO with a focus on the health of our seas, founder Doug Woodring stated on social media: “Starbucks is a partner with Maxim’s, one of Hong Kong’s biggest restaurant chains, in terms of its licensing of the Starbucks brand. The shark fin industry is proven to be unsustainable in all commercial terms and very often involves illegal and illicit trade. So, why would a company like Starbucks, with supposed high environmental standards, work with a partner garnering this type of ESG liability in its operations? #leadership #branding”
Despite Maxim’s claim to have phased out shark fins at the end of 2017, the obscure menus have been identified in several Maxim’s restaurants, including Chiuchow Garden, Maxim’s Palace, Jade Garden, Symphony by Jade and Hoi Yat Heen. Dishes innocuously named “Special Dish for Chiuchow Garden,” for example, highlights double boiled shark fin soup with Yunnan ham for HKD1,800.
In a letter sent to Starbucks dated in May 2018 on their association with the Hong Kong shark fin trade via Maxim’s engagement, WildAid is calling on the global coffee giant to sever business ties with Coffee Concepts Limited – a division of Maxim’s which own 160 stores throughout Hong Kong and Macau – until the company can publicly remove all shark fins from their menus immediately. As of this publication, Starbucks has remained silent on the situation.
While consumption of shark fin soup in China has significantly decreased about 80 percent since 2011, per SCMP, Hong Kong remains a top buyer of shark fin where more than “a third of products sold in local shops come from species that are vulnerable or endangered.”
SIGN: A petition has been underway to spotlight Maxim’s CEO, Michael Wu, to stop the brutal and unsustainable shark fin industry.
SHOW UP: A public protest will be held outside Maxim’s Centre headquarters in Lai Chi Kok (17 Cheung Shun Street) at 4:00PM on June 15th, 2018.
Images courtesy of Gary Stokes/Sea Shepherd Global (lead and second photo) and WildAid (Starbucks graphics).