Investigating the causes and drivers of food waste in the hospitality sector in Dubai-UAE. Toward implementing food waste prevention strategies.”

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Saving natural resources to protect the planet and help sustain a better future for the generations requires focusing mainly on the three pillars of a sustainable society that are important for humans to live and interact. These are the social, economic and environmental pillars. The world was united to put international goals in order to reduce the recent problems that are affecting these pillars; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the Global Goals. Goal number 12 of these 17 SDGs focuses on making consumption and production reasonable to lower the use of natural resources and decrease the waste generated consequently. The food loss and waste problem have been the focus of individuals and governments in the late few years; this is referred to as its effects on the sustainable vision of the countries as well as its impact on the social, economic and environmental sides of them. Tackling this issue needs the united efforts of the private and public sectors and is considered under goal SDG 12.3. Food loss is the decrease in food amounts before consumption, mostly in developing countries. While Food waste focuses on food thrown out after consumption, left intentionally or thrown away, and mostly in developed countries. The UAE has one of the highest per capita amounts of food waste yearly, around 224kg. Thus, efforts to tackle the problem have to start, this is in alignment with achieving international targets like SDG 12.3 and national ones such as “Zero Hunger” by 2051. Huge efforts and initiatives in the country are established. Their work is mainly focused on recovering food waste through banks, composting and animal feeds. However, source reduction is considered the top priority in solving the food waste problem. This research fills the theoretical gap, which was confirmed to be lacking in the country, in finding the causes and drivers of food waste in the hospitality sector of Dubai, and suggests prevention strategies to be implemented in food services to reduce it. The hospitality sector of the Emirate of Dubai is considered one of the major sectors contributing to food waste as Dubai is a tourist hub. A mixed-mode methodology was used to collect the data; it distributed two surveys using to the public food services users (guests, N=361) and the food services providers (employees, N=91), followed by interviewing seven experts with high positions to verify the results. The leading causes of food waste from the customers’ side that all participants agreed on and ranked by most effective were: taking big portions and seeing abundance in types and amounts, the lack of awareness, and the cultural habits shown in generosity in over-ordering. While causes of FW from the food services are summarized mainly in their over-production and wrong planning and forecasting for numbers. Other factors were checked for their effect on food waste according to the opinion of the (guests, employers), to find that (45%, 47%) chose winter season, (93%, 71%) chose weekend days, and (71%, 64%) chose buffet type. Results were checked by SPSS program for a general trend with some demographics to show that guests with higher salary and going to high-end services mainly chose “food presentation” as a major cause of FW and employees working in high-end services find FW to be depending on “meal time”. The primary prevention strategies suggested by the interviewees were using smart-scales technology like Winnow, reducing portion/plate sizes, sourcing locally, using menu engineering, raising the chefs’ education through awareness campaigns and training, and using encouraging messages to remind the people to save their planet. These suggestions along with the accepted strategies by the surveyed samples were the base for developing a fundamental plan for food services to start working on and follow up with the global trend of “Target, Measure and Act”.
food waste, United Arab Emirates (UAE), hospitality food, food waste impacts