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INTERNATIONAL

Middle-East F&B industry must embrace technology to combat food waste
Saturday, 09 February, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dubai
The food and beverage industry in the Middle-East needs to enthusiastically embrace advanced technology to help fight the growing food waste dilemma in the region.

This was stated by Michael Ellis, chief culinary officer, Jumeirah Group (a hospitality group), and Michael Barsties, head, Food Waste Heroes Programme, Olio (a mobile food-sharing app), at the Gulfood Innovation Summit, which is slated to debut between February 18 and 20, 2019. They will be co-panellists during a panel discussion, titled Foodtech in the Kitchen.

The Summit will be among the eight new features integrated into the 24th essay of Gulfood, one of the world’s leading food and beverage trade exhibitions (which will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre [DWTC] between February 17 and 21, 2019).

Ellis and Barsties urged the food and beverage players in the region that only disrupting traditional working and operational practices will combat the problem.

Smart Kitchen
“The advent of the smart kitchen would go a long way in hugely improving industry efficiency,” said 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,” he added.

“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,” Ellis said.

Ellis, who works across Jumeirah’s international portfolio of 23 hotels, added that widespread hi-tech adoption in smart kitchens will put the region on the road to achieving zero waste.

“At Jumeirah, we are looking closely at all aspects of the kitchen and raw materials management. With the scale of our operations and the commitment to excellence we have to each and every dish, this is a major area of interest for us,” he added.

“Whether it is inventory control, HAACP (hazard analysis and critical control points) implementation, JIT (just-in-time) ordering, or elsewhere, food tech is the key to more efficient and quality food operations,” Ellis said.

Land used to grow food that is never eaten now size of Mexico
With the industry facing up to a raft of next-gen technology, including the Internet of Things (IoT), Barsties opined that the industry is facing a major evolution in both commercial and private kitchens.

“There will be total disruption by bringing the Internet into the kitchen. Interconnectedness, such as AI and IoT, will have the biggest impact in the kitchens of the future,” he added.

“The bin could record what you are 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,” Barsties said.

He was adamant that advanced kitchen technology was no longer an option, and added, “Technology helps us discover and eliminate inefficiencies which often mean a waste of resources. Given these are finite on our planet, we should start using them more wisely. This also includes the land we use to grow food that is never eaten, which is roughly the size of Mexico.”

Forty per cent of UAE’s total waste from food
With food waste being one pressing F&B industry issue to come under the Summit spotlight, a recent report by engineering solutions firm Danfoss estimated that 40 per cent of the UAE’s (United Arab Emirates) total waste is derived from food, while in Saudi Arabia alone, the economic impact of food waste is $13.3 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,” stated Trixie LohMirmand, senior vice-president, exhibitions and events, DWTC.

“Region-wide, 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 is important that F&B professionals in the region understand the issue and they role they can play in its solution,” she added.

Summit heads Gulfood 2019 features
The inaugural Gulfood Innovation Summit will see over 40 industry experts from across the Middle-East, India, Europe, the United States and Africa take to the stage to probe the hottest topics impacting the F&B industry locally, regionally and globally.

The Summit will also see the unveiling of a Global Social and Economic Outlook for the F&B industry, fireside chats with celebrity chefs and market outlook reports for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kenya.

Innovation is the byword for the 2019 show, which will take up over 10,00,000sq ft, with 5,000 exhibitors promoting a vast range of new products, concepts and technology.

With a packed exhibitor house and vibrant new features, DWTC is confident that February 2019 will see the show attract upwards of 98,000 attendees from 198 countries.

Together with Gulfood’s well-established features of Halal World (for the global F&B halal market), Discover Zone (which highlights industry innovation) and the CEZVE/IBRIK World Championship, DWTC has widened the show’s scope and capabilities as it heads towards its silver anniversary in 2020.

Gulfood 2019 is a trade event open strictly to business and trade visitors. The show will be open between 11am and 7pm from February 17 to 20 and between 11am and 5pm on February 21.
 
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