Kuwait Has The Highest Food Waste Rate In The World

11 September 2023 Food

Kuwait's food wastage problem is growing in a worrying manner because of its impacts on the environment and economy. It highlights the presence of the culture of extravagance and wastage, and lack of appreciation for blessings, reports Al- Qabas daily. According to official statistics, 400,000 tons of food surpluses are wasted every year in the country, of which the per capita share is 95 kilograms annually. Kuwait is one among the countries with the highest food waste in the world.

It is due to a number of factors, such as the large number of social events, the incorrect estimation of daily food needs of families, the lack of laws and legislation regulating food wastage, and the failure to enact legislation that would punish wasteful individuals and entities by charging them fees for food wastage. In light of the spread of this phenomenon and its negative environmental and economic repercussions, the Minister of Commerce and Industry Mohammad Al-Aiban decided to form a committee for designing and implementing the “National Campaign to Rationalize Food Consumption.”

As part of its responsibilities, the committee will inform citizens and residents of the economic and environmental impacts resulting from food waste in the country, as well as study proposals submitted by the committee chair, its members, and specialists. In this context, a member of the committee and Head of the “Ne’mati” (my blessing) initiative project Muhammad Al-Muzaini affirmed that the spread of the culture of wastage and extravagance, and the lack of appreciation for blessings harm society. He explained that the committee will begin its work by conducting comprehensive research on current food wastage statistics and trends. A study will also be prepared to analyze social behavior and the motives behind the misconceptions that produced the phenomenon and ways to address them, as well as the contributing factors at the national level.

A proposal with the committee to prevent food wastage includes utilizing cooked food that is left over from social events that take place almost daily. This will be done after taking the opinions of specialists in the Public Authority for Food and Nutrition and the charitable committees. There will be a need for a healthy food supervisor to supervise the food, and prepare it in accordance with health requirements so that it can be given to needy families in an acceptable and decent manner. According to the Food Wastage Index Report for 2021 issued by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Kuwaiti food waste amounts to approximately 400,000 tons per year, while an individual wastes 95 kilograms per year.

During his participation in previous government committees, Al-Muzaini reviewed the experiences of many neighboring countries in terms of reducing food waste, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. He affirmed the need to implement those experiences in Kuwait, after presenting them to the newly formed committee by the Minister of Commerce and Industry.

It is estimated that wasted food costs the state at least KD 7.200 a kilogram through basic transportation, collection, and waste storage services, according to experts and specialists. He cited a recent study conducted by 106 restaurant, hotel, and catering employees. About 64.2 percent of them stated that the estimated financial value of daily surplus food in restaurants, hotels, and catering companies amounts to KD 50 per day. About 25.5 percent believed that it reaches KD 50 per day, and 25.5 percent thought it reached KD 100 per day.

Al-Muzaini emphasized the importance of taking the following legislative, legal, and regulatory measures:

- Establishing a national program to reduce the phenomenon of food loss and wastage. This program will be under the umbrella of a government body determined by the Council of Ministers.

- Establishing the National Observatory for Food Wastage in order to collect, exchange and disseminate data in a consistent and transparent manner with all stakeholders in the stages of the food chain.

- Enacting strict legislation and procedures to hold the food importing, manufacturing, processing and selling sector accountable for the losses resulting from their operations.

- Criminalizing wastage at the societal and institutional levels, and promoting the use of surplus food.

- Developing a legal and technical vision for the nature of partnership, cooperation and coordination between food companies, restaurants, cooperative societies, central markets, wedding halls and hotels in order to distribute the surplus usable food resulting from the activity of these entities for the benefit of charitable associations and foundations.

Al-Muzaini explained that the reasons for food wastage vary across the country. These include not applying best practices at all stages of the food supply chain, including collection, harvesting, sorting, packaging, transportation, storage, and handling, weak logistical factors, a lack of infrastructure, and a lack of assistive technologies to reduce food waste and manage surpluses.

 

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