Luxury Hotels in Developing Countries Are Fighting to Stem Food Waste

by | Aug 1, 2018 | General News

Innovation and common sense are helping major hospitality properties in countries like Mexico or the Maldives put discarded food waste to good use by repurposing it

Many travelers have spent time at tropical hotels or all-inclusive resorts in sunny climes, or any other number of places where there seems to be copious amounts of food waste resulting from having so many visitors.

These wastes, however, may not always be what they seem. Take, for example, Mexico’s Velas Vallarta, which is located in sunny beautiful Puerto Vallarta. At that resort, guests enjoy fully-loaded plates piled high with food items such as tacos, enchiladas, chips and salsa, and any other number of cuisine items one might expect to find at an all-inclusive Mexican resort.

What happens, though, when guests don’t finish that food? Well, at Velas Vallarta the massive amount of food waste that happens each day does not, in fact, end up getting dumped into the trash. No, this all-inclusive resort delivers 700 pounds of its food waste each morning to a nearby hog farmer down the road from the beach that can then use that waste as food.

Whatever the hogs don’t eat or need ultimately goes to get composted on site and then subsequently brought full circle and used to fertilize that same resort’s abundant gardens. It’s a double benefit, helping the resort to meet its needs while also keeping that waste out of Mexico’s already-overloaded landfills. The staff at the resort is also free to bring compost home to use at their own houses.

The Beginning of a Trend

In fact, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that almost a quarter of food that is purchased in hotels and restaurants ends up being thrown away, regardless of where that hotel is located.

Food waste and how to stem its creation is a frequent topic of consideration in countries such as the United States, it’s still often a challenge in developing nations, where resources are inherently scarce. Resorts like Velas Vallarta, however, are stepping up to make a difference, even if the government can sometimes get in the way.

Making a Difference in Brazil

In Brazil, for example, food-safety regulations from the government actually prevent restaurants from directly giving away food, yet meanwhile 52 million Brazilians are still threatened by food insecurity, according to 2014 research by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. Meanwhile, the country produces almost more food waste than any other nation, with 40,000 tons wasted each day, according to research by the Brazilian Company of Agriculture. (That amount of food could feed 19 million people.)

The answers, however, to stopping this kind of waste and at the same time easing the crisis of hunger in the country, could lie in the food waste of the resorts. It’s just going to take some more time for these ideas to come together.

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