Food wastage in the UAE and other GCC countries is much higher than US and European countries with hotels being the biggest source of food waste, a new research revealed.
Annual food waste is estimated at 427kg per person in Saudi Arabia and 197kg per person in the UAE, compared with 95-115kg in Europe and North America, said a research report released by Dubai Industrial Park and The Economist Intelligence Unit on the sidelines of Gulfood 2019 on Monday.
Quoting a YouGov survey, the report highlighted that the need for awareness about food waste is growing across the region, particularly during the month of Holy Month of Ramadan.
“Hospitality and tourism are the biggest sources of food waste (in the region),” said Tara Fischbach, research assistant at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government.
Saud Abu Al-Shawareb, Managing Director of Dubai Industrial Park, said due to new technology, Industry 4.0 helps increase efficiency and decreasing wastage of food.
The food waste issue is gaining traction among consumers, companies and governments in the GCC. The region’s limited ability to cultivate crops required to meet local food demand has meant that the region relies heavily on food imports from around the world. Approximately 60-90 per cent of food consumed in the GCC is imported from abroad.
The study noted that the governments in the region are taking steps to develop a regulatory framework to enable recycling of waste into compost. The Saudi, UAE and Omani governments are respectively aiming to recycle 85 per cent, 75 per cent and 60 per cent of their countries’ municipal solid waste over the next decade.
Food security has been a priority, with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman improving their food security positions between 2012 and 2017, according to The EIU’s Food Security Index.
Al-Shawareb noted that the UAE food security ministry is going through intense efforts to improve food security. “We are happy with the initiatives taken by the government in terms of long-term planning for food security,” he said.
“Dubai continues to strengthen its non-oil economic sectors, particularly food and beverage (F&B) and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) – one of the target sub-sectors of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 that aims to advance industrial development in the emirate and increase its overall contribution to the GDP,” he added.