The Middle East’s F&B industry needs to enthusiastically embrace advanced technology to help fight the region’s growing food waste dilemma, according to experts due to address the first-ever Gulfood Innovation Conference in Dubai next month.
Speaking ahead of the Summit, which will run at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from February 18-20 as part of the five-day Gulfood exhibition, two leading experts on food waste have urged the region’s F&B players that only disrupting traditional working and operational practices will combat the problem.
The call came from Michael Ellis, Chief Culinary Officer of hospitality giant Jumeirah Group, and Michael Barsties, Head of Food Waste Heroes Programme of the ground-breaking Olio mobile app for food-sharing. The pair will both join a Summit panel on ‘Foodtech in the Kitchen.’
The advent of the ‘smart’ kitchen would go a long way to hugely improving industry efficiency, believes Ellis: “There are two areas where smart kitchens can have an enormous impact: firstly, by reducing the amount of repetitive manual labour that is a big part of much of food preparation, and secondly by reducing food waste, which is to some an extent an issue for most kitchens today. These innovations will come about both by developments in kitchen equipment, but also in the use of data mining techniques to allow chefs to anticipate how many of a certain dish will be ordered on a given day based on historical trends,” he said.
Global land used to grow food that is never eaten is now roughly the size of Mexico
With the industry facing up to a raft of next gen technology, including the Internet of Things (IoT), Barsties believes the industry is facing a major evolution in both commercial and private kitchens: “There’ll be total disruption by bringing the internet into the kitchen. Inter connectedness such as AI and IoT will have the biggest impact in the kitchens of the future. The bin could record what you’re wasting and inform you on your next shop that you probably should buy less of a product because you consistently throw away most of it. The fridge suggests what to eat based on the expiry dates of the food in it,” he explained.
40 percent of the UAE’s total waste is derived from food
With food waste one pressing F&B industry issue to come under the Summit spotlight, a recent report by engineering solutions firm Danfoss estimated that 40 percent of the UAE’s total waste is derived from food, while in Saudi Arabia alone, the economic impact of food waste is USD13.3 billion per year.
“Food waste across the region has surged in recent years due to a huge increase in the number of hotels and restaurants,” explained Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events, DWTC. “Regionwide this has now led to the launch of initiatives to tackle the problem. In the UAE, for example, Dubai plans to be the first city in the region to achieve zero food waste through the UAE Food Bank. It’s important that F&B professionals in the region understand the issue and they role they can play in its solution.”