Food innovation in food waste, sourcing practices and convenience products discussed, with Caterer Middle East in partnership with Unilever Food Solutions.

What does innovation in F&B mean to you, and are there any examples you can share of this?

Andy Cuthbert: Innovation covers many things. It’s not just in food, it’s the way we do events, and what we can do creatively. We’ve been looking at sustainability and green issues around meetings and events, for example. We’re getting a lot of corporate customers from overseas saying: ‘Where is your sustainability plan?’

Russell Impiazzi: Sometimes I think we innovate for the sake of innovating. It leads to a lot of pitfalls and errors. It’s great to think outside of the box but sometimes doing it for the right reasons and keeping things simple is cheaper, is easier and more effective. We don’t need to reinvent any wheels. One thing we’re looking at now, though, is food storage and transportation, which is a big issue: how to keep things safe, especially when transporting food off-site, which we do every day.

Colin Campbell: In terms of the catering that we do [at Abela & Co], menu innovation is, to a large extent, still driven by budgets. And food safety continues to be something that is looked at, whether driven internally or driven by Dubai Municipality’s Food Control Authority. And with Expo 2020 coming up [in Dubai], there will be an increasing drive to try and emulate some of what it stands for in terms of innovation.

Jéan van der Westhuizen: It’s about innovating in product and service and supporting the health and safety of food. Waste is going to become big on the agenda. I think we’re going to start getting charged for waste and the smarter we get with working with waste, the better.

Roudy Petersen: And you need to be in a good relationship with suppliers in terms of prices as well.

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