Food waste posing a serious threat to sustainability in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – A systematic review
Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences
1743 - 1752 p.
Worldwide, food waste is one of the prime issues threatening food security and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is not an exception. With 427 kg of food wasted per capita per year, the country ranks among the top food wasters. Ironically, the Kingdom has limited arable lands and scarce water resources to support mass-scale agriculture and to feed its increasing population, KSA relies heavily on imports and subsidized food to meet needs. Yet, food is wasted at restaurants, caterers, cafeterias and, especially, by households such that food waste is the single-largest component of the landfills. The review article is based on the grey and scientific literature published in the English and Arabic languages on the issue of food waste in Saudi Arabia. Information sources like Web of knowledge, online resources and the databases available through the King Saud University, Saudi Arabia were accessed and used to collect information on food waste, its social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts and related topics. Since food items and groceries are abundantly available to all living in KSA and they are highly subsidized, the residents take food for granted. According to a recent survey, about 78% of food purchased in KSA is discarded each week in order to make room for new groceries. The factors responsible for food waste include: lack of awareness; and insufficient and inappropriate planning when shopping. Food waste in restaurants, celebrations, social events and occasions are enormous. Waste is common in festivals and special events where the customs is to provide more food than required. There is a need to change society’s food culture, particularly among the women and the youth, as they are largest segment of the society and the prime food wasters. The analysis of the factors responsible for food waste, identified in this article suggests a “Stop Wasting Food” campaign should be launched. It is also recommended to determine and activate the role of extension education to reduce food waste in the KSA through vibrant capacity building programs for youth and women, in particular, and society in general.