Bringing home-cooked meals to Hong Kong consumers
From his kitchen in Kwai Chung, Tommy Leung is producing plant-based and nutritious ready meals for the busy consumers of Hong Kong.
TEXT: Emma Sahlin
14 December, 2018
Dragon News met up with Tommy Leung in the urban area of Kwai Chung, in the New Territories, Hong Kong.
“This used to be one of the biggest production areas in Hong Kong,” he explains. “Almost everything was produced here. But since everything has moved to China, the buildings are now mainly used for storage.”
Most companies have moved their production elsewhere, but not Leung and his company Gafell. Despite high rents and the struggle to find a location that fulfilled all of their criteria, Leung says that Hong Kong is a good fit for them. “It is a great place for us to be – you can find ingredients from almost anywhere in the world here. Producing in Hong Kong also allows us to have full control of what goes into our meals.”
Gafell produces ready meals completely from scratch, with the vision providing home-cooked meals for the busy population of Hong Kong. “The food industry in Hong Kong is quite unique due to the limited space for cooking that most people have in their homes,” says Leung. “The kitchens are too small and the time people have on their hands is limited, creating great opportunities for convenient products.”
Leung has always had a keen interest in food, but the decision to dive into the business took time. After a few years of working on sourcing in China, he decided to move to Hong Kong in 2015 to be closer to his girlfriend.
“I knew that I wanted to start my own company, and I had an idea about producing good food,” he says. He started off selling lasagna sheets from soybeans, but soon realised that he wanted to create his own meals as well. “And that’s how we decided to build the kitchen,” he says.
If we can get people to eat one vegan meal per day or week, we can make a great difference for our planet.”
A year ago, he built it in Kwai Chung and started experimenting with different recipes, most of them vegan. The decision to focus on vegan dishes was a result of Leung’s wish to make an impact: “If we can get people to eat one vegan meal per day or week, we can make a great difference for our planet.”
With increasing environmental concerns comes a responsibility, and for Leung Hong Kong is an optimal location to achieve results, due to its geographical location, which provides access to a large number of people.
“There are 67 million people living in the Greater Bay Area alone. If there is any place where it is possible to make a difference, it is here,” he says.
“There are great business opportunities in Hong Kong. It’s easy to do business and the business community is very helpful.” Among others, he mentions InvestHK who have supported the company a lot during the past year.
So far, Leung has managed to get his food into large food stores such as ParknShop, Wellcome and Market Place. The meals can also be found in his company’s online store at www.gafell.com. When asked about what the future holds, Leung is positive: “We have had a lot of great responses so far and look forward to continue to impact the way people eat.”
During 2019, Leung aims to expand his business, focusing more on experimenting with Asian-kitchen tastes and introducing new dishes. He is also optimistic about expansion outside of Hong Kong. The Chinese market is not far away due to the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which allows goods made in Hong Kong to be shipped to China tax-free, and which Leung describes as a great opportunity for his company.
Tommy Leung in brief
Occupation: Entrepreneur and managing director at food startup Gafell.
Hometown: Stockholm and Hong Kong.
Background: Degree of Master of Science in Business and Economics from Stockholm University. Has previously worked with food sourcing and packaging.
Lives: In Hong Kong since 2015.
Best food in Hong Kong: “You can find good food everywhere, but I would really recommend going for local food at the dai pai dong food stalls”.