FAFS' Associate Professor Dr. Mohamad G. Abiad participated in the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) West Asia and ESCWA webinar series (July 22) to discuss the current state of issues related to food waste in Western Asia. Dr. Abiad's presentation focused on hospitality and food distribution sectors; he explored the reality, the challenges, and some potential solutions. During his presentation, Abiad highlighted the alarming quantity of food waste generated across the region, especially in the Arab world, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) leads in quantity of food waste, generating more than 427 kg per capita each year, followed by the UAE (in 4th place, generating 196 kg/person/year of food waste), Palestine (14th place with around 93 kg of food waste generated per person annually), and Egypt (16th, with about 73 kg/person/year of food waste).
Dr. Abiad discussed various factors that contribute to food waste generation in the hotel, restaurant, catering (HORECA) and retail industries. Among these factors are ensuring customer satisfaction and gratitude while retail shopping by continuously providing complete display shelves. Abiad noted that consumers tend to buy fresh food products and avoid those that are close to expiration and to refrain from the purchase of products considered aesthetically flawed.
Conversely, in the hospitality sector, food waste generation is affected by plate size, which often exceed individual need because foodservice providers tend to prepare an excess of food due to improper projections regarding customer needs. Abian concluded his remarks by proposing several solutions, including the need to raise public awareness, develop practical plans and policies aimed at reducing / preventing food waste, adopting legislation and policies to reduce and recycle waste through the implementation of fiscal measures - such as taxes on waste generation and tax incentives when donating food.