When the world’s famous chef Gordon Ramsay, tried shark fins for the first time, at one of Taipei’s glitziest restaurants, he was typically blunt in his assessment: "It almost tastes of nothing, like plain glass noodles.” Ramsay’s comments also stirred another wave in what has become a globe-spanning change in marine shark conservation. The ravenous appetite of predominantly Chinese consumers for shark fin soup has driven many species to the brink of extinction.
To address what many coined barbaric practice, some leading hotel groups around South East Asia have pledged to remove this delicacy from their menus. The dish, which comprises pieces of rehydrated shark fin in a rich broth, is a popular staple at wedding parties and formal banquets, with a serving for 12 people costing around $200. Premium shark fin can fetch more $1,000 per kilogram.
Far from being a tonic, shark activists claim, the shark fin soup once consumed by Chinese emperors some 2000 years ago and still seen as a status symbol today, because of its high price and food crave, can be injurious to human health. It has been found to contain high levels of mercury.
After rainforests, coral reefs are the second most productive eco-system on earth; they nurture the marine creatures that nourish mankind. Sharks play a very important role in the oceans in a way that an average fish does not. Sharks are at the top of the food chain in virtually every part of every ocean. In that role, they keep populations of other fish in proper proportion for their ecosystem. They tend to eat very efficiently, going after the old, sick, or slower fish in a population that they prey upon, keeping that population healthier. For this reason, the prospect of a food chain minus its apex predators may mean the end of the line for many more species. A number of scientific studies demonstrate that depletion of sharks, results in the loss of commercially important fish and shellfish species down the food chain, including key fisheries such as tuna, which maintain the health of coral reefs.
Nearly all shark fins end up in Mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. China became the world’s largest market for shark fin due to its rising wealth and desire for luxury goods. Some specialist restaurants in Beijing have changed their menus or closed down, and airlines and hotel chains have stopped serving the soup. Meanwhile, in Europe, California and elsewhere, loopholes that allowed shark finning to continue, have been closed.
The gruesome practice of shark finning – sawing the fins off live sharks in order to make a gourmet soup – appears to be declining following growing western revulsion and a Chinese government crackdown with new rules intended "to promote frugality, oppose extravagance and enhance the anti-corruption efforts among party and governmental authorities". The sharks are caught, their fins are sliced off and they are often thrown back into the ocean, where they die slowly. Campaigners report a generational divide emerging in China, with young people rejecting their parents' symbols of success and status. Despite the dish's central place in Cantonese cuisine, attitudes were shifting, particularly among younger people.
For snorkelers and divers, the value and lure of sharks is in their streamlined beauty and sleek grace (e.g. Reef sharks), their freak-show weirdness factor (e.g. Hammerheads, the docile leopard sharks lazing on the seabed), and their enormity (e.g. Whale sharks, which grow up to a size of a bus yet are genial, plankton-gobbling goliaths). Chat with any divers and their most memorable plunges into the aquatic abyss and many will mention whale sharks – or at least they used to. With reports surfacing on sightings of fishing boats butchering countless sharks, tourism is also taking a hit. Perhaps, millions of dollars in revenue streams that these creatures create for tourism in the world is over, not to mention jobs.
The Cape & Kantary Hotels is one of Thailand’s most respected and well-known property development and management companies. The group owned and operated first class hotels, apartments, serviced apartments, office buildings, factories and warehouses across the country for over five decades. In line with Cape & Kantary Hotels’ commitment to support the prevention of cruelty to animals, besides shark fin, the hotel group has always excluded items like bird’s nest and foie gras from menus of their eight (8) restaurant brands and seventeen (17) properties.
Cape & Kantary is hoping their collaborations with shark protection campaigners, will create a ripple effect among their hotel visitors. Removing shark fin soup off the menu is a good starting point. However, it has been observed that both recent corporate, and wedding banquet sales have been declining.
After the restaurant has performed a SWOT analysis, it can proceed to goal formation. Using Michael Porter’s three generic strategies of Overall cost leadership, Differentiation, and Focus, explain and illustrate the three (3) strategies in relation to the Cape and Kantary restaurant’s business, and suggest how it may use them effectively to achieve its goals.
The Cape & Kantary restaurants want to understand why since removing shark’s fin soup off the menu, it has been observed that both corporate and wedding banquet sales have been declining coincidentally.
(a) Discuss the research problem.
(b) Recommend two (2) primary data collection methods (research approaches) that are useful to the Cape & Kantary restaurants and briefly discuss how they can be used for this research.