Dishwashing: Contract and In-Flight Catering
In the Talking Point article introducing this series, we argued that dishwashing is a strategic asset for the busy UAE restaurant. With tableware being reused multiple times a day, food premise operators have a duty of care to customers, ensuring that the plates, cups, glasses and cutlery used are germ free.
In two follow-up blog posts, we presented best-practice advice in ensuring that the highest quality dishwashing standards and procedures are followed, including the critical role played by the cleaning chemical supplier in delivering best quality results in the most cost efficient manner. In this article, we look at the unique dishwashing demands of the institutional catering market. Nowhere is the need for quality standards and professionalism more important than in the region’s rapidly growing commercial and in-flight catering sectors.
The UAE/Middle East is host to some of the world’s leading and fastests growing airlines and airports, some of whom have emerged as well-known global brands. We simply cannot afford the brand reputation damage, which would result from inefficient or unreliable on-the-ground warewashing systems. To avoid unnecessary and expensive plane downtime, warewashing processes and systems need to be ‘fit-for-purpose’ to meet the high expectations of the region’s fast growing airlines.
The institutional catering market
The institutional food catering industry in the UAE, and Middle East more generally, continues to grow at a rapid pace built on the rapid expansion of schools, hospitals, large construction camps, airports and major events such as World Expo 2020 and the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. The industry is divided into two main sub-sectors, industrial catering and in-flight catering.
There are approximately 50 industrial catering companies operating in the UAE serving an estimated 2 million meals per day. The industry, however, is highly concentrated, with just five companies accounting for 90 per cent of the market.
At Arpal Gulf, we are fortunate to be working with some of the biggest names in contract catering within the UAE, servicing hundreds of sites for clients working across a diverse range of sectors including hotels and hospitality, manufacturing, petrochemicals, banks and financial services, hospitals, universities and colleges, retailers and industrial services. We are the leading hygiene provider in this field.
GCC countries already account for a significant share of the global travel catering market estimated at $15 billion, with growth of five per cent per annum.
The demand for in-flight catering services in the region will increase exponentially with the expected increase in the number of air travellers due to the huge expansion of airports and airline fleets. In 2012, Middle East airlines carried over 144 million passengers on scheduled services. By 2020, this is expected to increase to 400 million passengers. Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi airports already have a combined annual capacity of 190 million passengers. The Middle East’s fleet of aircraft will treble in size by 2028 with a requirement for 2,340 aircrafts. By 2020, it is expected that Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways will have the capacity to carry nearly 200 million passengers: four times their current capacity.
This huge surge in passenger numbers will create significant growth opportunities in the region’s travel catering sector and has already resulted in catering facilities being transformed, expanded and upgraded across the region. For example, Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), the region’s largest caterer, providing in-flight catering for airlines flying into or out of Dubai International Airport, has already considerably enhanced the scope of its business, currently handling a throughput of 70 million plus passengers.
Rapid growth in passenger volume, fleet and airport expansion will place increasing demands on everyone involved in providing efficient and effective on-the-ground warewashing services. Airline catering is highly demanding, particularly when it comes to warewashing. A busy airport can wash dishes, cutlery and glassware from hundreds of thousands of meals per day when operating at full capacity, plus trolleys and other ware. A complex operation is involved comprising multiple individual dishwashing machines, conveyor dishwashers, cart and trolley washing facilities all supported by advanced suction and dosing technology.
The warewashing system must be durable enough to withstand the rigours of a 24-hour operation, 365 days a year, supported by proven technology and chemical solutions. It needs to be highly reliabile with minimal down time. You can’t really keep a plane waiting because there is no clean cutlery. Working 24 hours a day, efficient optimisation is required to reduce operating costs, energy, water and detergent consumption. Lean production processes are required to minimise labour costs while taking into account environmental impact, safety, cleaning and recycling of waste.
All of this needs to be delivered while ensuring that the highest hygiene and cleanliness standards are delivered, round the clock, without exception.
Arpal Gulf in-flight catering
At Arpal Gulf, we are very fortunate to be working with some great individuals and organisations in delivering efficient and effective cleaning chemical solutions to major in-flight catering operations in the region through our association with Emirates at Dubai International Airport, Etihad Airport Services (EAS) in Abu Dhabi and with Alpha Catering Services at Sharjah International.
For example, in Abu Dhabi we work closely with EAS servicing the needs of an estimated 30 million passengers a year at the new Midfield Terminal Complex (MTC). We are one of several core suppliers supporting the in-flight catering operation 24/7, 365 days a year. We provide dosing system maintenance to the industrial scale dish and pot wash process areas, services to the kitchen, cooking and preparation areas, technical support and monitoring services to the commercial laundry operation.
To ensure that the highest standards are achieved, a minimum of four visits per week are made by the Arpal Gulf engineering and customer services team to ensure that all equipment is in working order and that dilution rates are correct. In such a demanding environment, rapid and reliable engineering service is critical. We offer an unbeatable service in the event of mechanical breakdown of any dosing equipment.
If there is one industry where it is critical to ‘get it right the first time’ it is in-flight catering in the Middle East.
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