Ramadan is now in its second week amidst increased COVID-19 precautionary measures. The restrictions on movement in Muscat have been a boon as there are few reports of food wastage at food outlets and restaurants.
Five-star hotels opt for pre-bookings and keep count of guests arriving. Samir Messaoudi, general manager of Sheraton Oman Hotel, said, “We prefer pre-reservations so that we know exactly how many guests will come for iftar and prepare the food accordingly. This allows us to curb wastage of food. Compared to previous years, there is significant reduction in food wastage.”
K Jayananda Shetty, manager of Mughlai Zaika Restaurant, observed that due to movement restrictions after 9pm, he is not seeing people out in large numbers. “We prepare food as per order, so food wastage is minimum.”
Before 2020, most hotels wasted almost 30 per cent of their cooked food according to some estimates.
Santosh Unni Nair, owner of Tashan Restaurant in Seeb, said, “There is a reduction in food waste due to the nightly lockdown and people’s loss in income when compared to earlier Ramadans. Also, people are devising strategies to save and store leftovers.”
Nair noted that owing to social distancing and restrictions on gatherings, there is less food wastage at homes, too, as people aren’t laying out big, lavish spreads. In his estimation, this year food wastage is 20-25 per cent less compared to earlier.
Smaller shops and coffee shops have also reported less wastage. Earlier, shops in Ruwi, Hamriya and Ghubra saw a flurry of activity around iftar as people gathered to break fast and socialise.
Imtiaaz Ali, a Pakistani chef of a grill shop in Hamriya, said, “The maximum wastage was of cooked rice. Some cut fruits and meat also went to waste due to wrong estimation of customers expected. But now we have cut down some items and so there is far less wastage. If there are any leftovers, we donate it to needy people.”