Ramadan is known as a time of moderation, but there is increasing concern about the amount of food wasted during the holy month. According to EcoMena, around one fifth of the food purchased or prepared during Ramadan ends up in the bin.
Food waste is a costly problem in the UAE. Four billion dollars’ worth of food is wasted across the country every year. In 2012, the Dubai Municipality estimated that during Ramadan, around 55 per cent of household waste - or approximately 1,850 tonnes - is thrown away every day. Municipality officials revealed the numbers have continued to climb ever since. This problem, however, will turn into an opportunity if the hospitality industry prioritises the issue. Reducing food waste can deliver substantial cost savings, and it contributes to the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win for businesses.
We have been helping the UAE to address the issue of food waste and are currently working with some of Dubai's most prestigious hotels. The Pullman Dubai Creek City Centre & Residences was one of the first hotels in the region to adopt our technology, and it has already reduced food waste by 40%. We have also been working with the Government of Dubai to deploy food waste reduction technology across the country’s hospitality sector.
Based on our experience over the years, we’ve come up with some recommendations to help the hospitality sector reduce food waste. Here are our five tips for a less wasteful Ramadan:
- What gets measured gets managed: There’s a strong business case for making food waste prevention a priority, but you cannot do much about it if you don’t know what you’re throwing away. Measuring and monitoring waste allows you to identify where reductions can be made, delivering significant cost savings and helping the environment.
- Analyze your food waste: By analysing plate waste and finding the optimal portion size, you can satisfy your guests while cutting waste at the same time. Less time spent preparing food that is going to be wasted means that staff can focus on adding value elsewhere, like increasing quality. This is a better use of time and resources.
- Be smart about putting the right amount of food out with buffets: You need your buffet to look full. Most chefs therefore face the challenge of balancing this requirement with the desire to reduce food waste. Experiment with different approaches: try putting high-value items in certain positions or using shallower bowls that are refilled more often.
- Focus on what you can control: Avoidable food waste normally comes from overproduction, cooking error or spoilage. Find out which areas generate the bulk of your avoidable food waste, and then manage it with inventory control, stock rotation and production adjustments.
- Consider food waste reduction a group effort: Food waste needs to be addressed openly and as a team. When food waste reduction initiatives are led by senior management, the results are much more impressive.
Reducing food waste comes with enormous savings potential but raising awareness on the issue is not only about the hospitality industries. All those engaged in the food sector has a role to play as food waste occurs throughout the supply chain and takes different forms.
Have you ever attempted to record food waste in your restaurant? Have you identified a festive period when the waste usually goes up? Share your experience with us in the comments below:
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