Ramadan Food Waste and How to Reduce It

It is estimated that 25-50% of the food produced in the Arab world during Ramadan remains uneaten, says UNEP. Over $3.5 billion is lost annually due to food waste in the UAE during this sacred month, according to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE).

So how can restaurants and suppliers make a difference to address this issue?

Menu Planning and Portion Control

F&B establishments might begin by reviewing their menu options and optimizing portion sizes. Analyzing previous data and consumer preferences might assist in developing a menu that reduces leftovers. Applying portion control techniques ensures that only the essential amounts are provided. You can control this by avoiding overserving and customizing recipes to the exact number of bookings, which can decrease surplus food. This reduces waste, saves money, and improves efficiency.

Experiment with Green Iftar

Vegan and vegetarian iftars are becoming more popular in the UAE. This Ramadan, consider having a vegan Iftar once a week or adding more vegetarian options to the menu. Offering more salads and vegetable platters, hearty vegetable stews, and grilled veggie skewers may appeal to various dietary requirements while also providing a refreshing alternative to typical meat-centric dishes.

Sustainable Sourcing

Collaborating with local farmers and suppliers for fresh produce benefits the community while also reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation. Using seasonal foods in Ramadan dishes encourages sustainability and avoids waste. 

Creative Repurposing

Encourage staff in the kitchen to be inventive with leftover items. Extra veggies can be utilized to make soups or as salad toppers. Similarly, day-old bread may be turned into croutons or bread pudding. Businesses may reduce waste by reinventing leftovers while also satisfying consumers with unique recipes.

Donations and Charity Initiatives

Partnering with local charities or food banks to redistribute extra food is an effective approach to reducing waste while also giving back to the community. Many groups in the UAE and KSA aggressively collect leftover food from restaurants and donate it to those in need. By engaging in such programs, F&B firms may help to improve food security while decreasing waste. If you want your business to get involved in a charitable project, consider contacting groups like the Rotary Club, which will help lead community projects.

The Ramadan season presents a great opportunity for restaurants and suppliers to stand up and take the lead in combating food waste. Businesses can have a big influence on reducing waste and sustainability by using proactive strategies such as menu rationalization, sustainable sourcing, innovative food reuse, philanthropic activities, and employee training.