Calls were made for governmental control over the labeling of farm foods and organic produce, to ensure the industry is held accountable, at the Big F&B Forum in Dubai yesterday.
Organised by Catering News ME, the Forum was attended by over 200 industry delegates, including speaker Laura Allais-Mare, leader of Slow Food Dubai Convivium, who accused the food packagers of bedazzling consumers with false marketing with regards to local and organic food.
Yael Mejia, brand consultant with Baker & Spice Dubai, argued: “The government just wants to keep people’s bellies full, at whatever cost, that is driving industrialisation.”
Speaking about a drive for sustainable supply, she added: “Everyone is talking the talking but not sure they are walking the walk. People are too far removed from how food is made in the field. It is naivety.”
Bernard Fantoli, corporate director of F&B TIME Hotels, believes that the food and beverage industry needs re-educating. He said: “In F&B we have lost the core of our business and become submerged by financial pressure and administration – so those that need to search for products don’t because it’s easier to order through software. We need to educate and bring chefs back to the local market – they have forgotten how to look at products.
Nils El Accad, founder of Organic Foods and Café, believes the problem lies in the commitment from the food and beverage industry to support local farmers. He said: “To get a purchase order for three months ahead seems very hard from hotels but the grower needs to plan and commitment. We can’t have this attitude, we must be flexible and understand growth cycles and delivery restraints and seasonality.”
Yael added: “We work with local farmers and when produce is not available we look to our nearest region in the Levant and if we can’t get it we won’t use it. Within these narrow definition we adapt. “Reliability a word of many colours – for us it’s about arriving when ordered but also living with wonky looking veg as it has no result on the end product. The choices I make for the business are pure and simple – I want fresh produce in the kitchen and so I am willing to work with farmers and work out who has what and what can arrive at our door and cook what we have, and I’m not afraid to say sorry it’s not right have something to a customer.”