Rising consumer awareness of impact of food waste recorded in the Middle East

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

77% of Middle Eastern consumers are "taking action" to reduce food waste. ©Getty Images
77% of Middle Eastern consumers are "taking action" to reduce food waste. ©Getty Images
Middle Easter consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of food waste, but the volume of goods being wasted remains stubbornly high.

A total of 83% of consumers from UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia surveyed said they understood the impact of food waste on environment, and as many as 77% of them are “taking action” to reduce food waste.

More than two-thirds of them will pack leftovers from restaurants. Another 83% said they would send “their leftovers to the less fortunate”​ if opportunities arise.

The survey commissioned by Danfoss, an engineering solutions firm, was conducted by market research firm YouGov last month.

Three thousand participants from across the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were surveyed.

The survey also revealed that nearly 80% of the consumers were  more conscious of food waste during the Ramadan period.

One reason for heightened awareness is due to various food saving activities held in that period.

“These results are extremely positive; proving that the Middle East region is finally starting to sit up and take notice of the damage being caused to the environment through their own actions is everything we could wish for. It is my hope that the Middle East continues on this path and achieves the goal of zero food waste,”​ said Danfoss’ regional president for Turkey, Middle East and Africa (TMA) Ziad Al Bawaliz.

With the rise of restaurant and hotel industry market sector, food waste has increased drastically in the Middle East.

In Saudi Arabia, the estimated cost of waste per year is $13.3 billion, amounting to one third of the country’s food production. On the other hand, food waste comprises 40% of the total waste generated in UAE, while the average Egyptian throws away around 73kg of food each year.

The top source of food wastage in the three countries are leftovers or discarded food in a restaurant (32%), followed by leftovers from celebratory events (30%), according to another survey conducted by YouGov last year.

“The food consumption habits in the Middle East are some of the most concerning in the world and this has a significant impact on the global environment, whether it’s because of overflowing landfills or the emission of greenhouse gases as a result of the food waste,” said ​Bawaliz.

Measures

A number of countries have sought to reduce food waste.

For instance, Dubai said it plans to be the first city to achieve zero food waste in the UAE with the help of UAE Food bank, a non-profit charitable organization launched last year.

Mobile applications​ have also been created to facilitate food donation.

In Egypt, mobile application Wasteless Egypt allows consumers to donate leftover food and clothes to the less fortunate areas with the click of a button, all year-round.

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