Emaar C.O.O talks about how he's turning food waste into an opportunity for his business

Emaar Hospitality Group is the first to bring cutting-edge AI technology into the UAE kitchen. Winnow Vision is being used in all 12 Emaar properties. They are responsible for major hotel chain launches in the region such as Rove hotelsAddress Hotels and Vida Hotels. They have been working together with Winnow since February 2018 to make their operations more sustainable.We had the pleasure of interviewing the man behind that, the thought leader and visionary - Chris Newman the Chief Operating Officer for EMAAR hospitality group. Read on to find out how EMAAR is turning a challenge in the industry into their successes.

What is unique about working in this local area?

Dubai is a very unique place to do business, particularly in hospitality. It is possibly the most dynamic city in the world right now in terms of hospitality, growth, and timing. Especially since we are the official hospitality partners for the Expo 2020. To be a part of EMAAR hospitality in this dynamic environment is exciting for me. 

What are some of the local environmental/social challenges you face here in the UAE? 

Some of the environmental and social challenges faced here have come about from an abundance of everything here in Dubai and in the UAE. Food consumption in this part of the world is absolutely massive. The subject of wastage is something that is coming onto the table more and more and gaining importance. 

What are some of the ways you keep costs down in your business?

The use of technology has notably reduced the overall cost expended by our business. Its significance and utility have accelerated dramatically over the last four years, we are not enjoying the same kind of market conditions that we enjoyed a few years ago. In order to maintain our business profitably, we have to look at ways where we are a lot more diligent on the cost front. The relationship that started with Winnow on managing food wastage has enabled us to improve profitability in the area of food and beverage. It has been a huge advancement and a huge success for us. 

When did you discover Winnow?

Through an email correspondence that began at the end of 2017, the subject seemed really interesting. It is not something that I'd seen or heard of in the past. We were always on the lookout for opportunities whereby we could reduce costs without negatively impacting the guest experience.  Winnow’s technology was a real common-sense approach to the subject of food wastage but there was a lot more to it than that. Their personal commitment to make sure that we are working together on this project as a team was really unique. 

You made the bold decision to install the Winnow Vision test systems in all Emaar properties. Please tell us more about the rationale behind this?

Across the breadth of our operations, we focus on environmental sustainability. Reducing food waste is one of the key tactical steps we have taken in ensuring that our kitchens operate to the highest level of efficiency. We also work to increase awareness among our guests on the need to cut food waste and promote a healthy environment for future generations, especially in our role as the Expo 2020 Dubai Official Hotel and Hospitality Partner. As a pioneer in introducing Winnow Vision, we will continue to explore innovative options to reduce food waste by leveraging the most-modern technologies in the field.

How quickly did you see the results? How much did you manage to save?

Across all Emaar Properties, we reduced food waste by 72% which is an incredible amount in the first year of operation. In terms of monetary value, this equates to approximately 1.8 million dirhams. That is really worth taking note of and I think it is a huge contributor to our success financially for this year. 

Were you able to use the savings on other aspects of the business? If so, what?

We were not applying the savings that were generated from introducing Winnow to any other area of the business. This helped us in maintaining profitability at the departmental level of food and beverage. The market dynamics are pushing down the selling prices that we could offer and because of that, we had to bring down prices. Therefore, by reducing the food wastage and hence the food cost, we made savings. That’s how we are maintaining our profit margins.

Maria Sanu