JUN 11, 2018 — The Saudi Kingdom has launched a national program to crack down on food waste after shocking figures estimated the cost of wastage at $13.3 billion (SR49 billion) a year .
The yearly squandering of food amounts to a third of the country’s food production, and nearly 36 percent of its 2018 projected budget deficit of SR137 billion.
The amount also exceeds by a factor of 2 the estimated SR23 billion in annual VAT proceeds the Kingdom expects to collect this year.
The whopping figure puts Saudi Arabia as number one in the world in wasting food, according to a report by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.
The report also revealed that average Saudi wastes 250 kg of food annually compared to the global average of 115 kg.
Saudi Arabia also has the highest consumption of grains in the world where the average citizen consumes 158 kg annually compared to the global average of 145 kg per person.
A report by the USDA/Economic Research Service shows that the percentage of annual household income spent in the kingdom on food was almost 24 percent, the highest among GCC countries. Kuwait and Bahrain spend nearly 14.5 percent; Qatar 13% and the UAE 9%.
Later this month, the Shoura Council plans to review a proposal of a law to combat food waste and squandering. A large portion of food leftovers are wasted in dinner parties, weddings, restaurants, and hotel buffets. Popular grains and foods include wheat, rice, dates, vegetables, fruit, red and white meat.
The law would comprise penalties on individuals and organizations with regards to food waste, such as enforcing a fee on restaurant goers who leave unfinished plates.
The Social Affairs Committee of the Shoura Council also proposes to establish a national center to limit food waste by offering guidance and awareness campaigns.
Currently, there is no similar law in place that fines individuals on food waste.
Meanwhile, health problems among Saudis are prevalent where 59 percent of the population suffers from overweight and obesity problems and 24 percent are diabetic. Additionally, 41 percent have hypertension.