Experts have gotten together to find ways to use the excess food left by the Saudis, which eventually ends up in the bin. A popular suggestion is that charity organizations can gather leftover food and give them to the poor. In this day where experts claim there are almost 870 million starving people in the world, almost one and a half tons of food is thrown in the garbage, which has been a result of lack of awareness campaigns.[irp]
In accordance with latest studies, Saudi Arabia is the front runner of food consumption in the region. They account for 60% of total consumption in the area. The Gulf region consumes 3.1 percent of the world’s total food, giving them the not so sought after title of “World’s most wasteful areas” when it comes to food. The consumption rate in the Gulf is reportedly going to increase to 49.1 million metric tons. 35 percent or 13 million tons of food goes to the garbage in the region. It is approximated that 4 million meals are daily binned in only the Eastern Province.
According to Etaam food bank’s Khaled Al-Khan, most of the food garbage comes from wedding halls and hotels, while the Etaam society sort all surplus food into packs and delivers them to almost 5000 poor families. Another branch of this society has opened in Riyadh, a city where almost 12000 meals are wasted daily. There are branches scheduled to be opened in Qatif and the suburbs shortly. Fadal Al-Buainain, an economist claims that food wastage is a major problem for the country. He states that Saudis consume far more than they need, which leads to more than half of it being wasted, also reporting that above 70 percent of all food from public events is trashed. This causes a great strain to everyone’s pocket. He also claims that if food wastage is cut down by 30 percent it could help bring food prices down almost 15 percent.
Limiting the purchase of perishable items such as vegetables and fruits can bring down their prices to half of what they are now. The high consumption is a key negative factor that affects the economy. Unfortunately, Saudis do not create a culture of saving but instead borrow from banks to keep up their lifestyles. Most families in limited income bracket prefer to eat fast food which has a price tag of SAR100 per serving, which in turn becomes SAR3000 a month even if it is consumed once a day. With almost 66 percent of this money, the family can get groceries which will last equally long and will not create any wastage.[irp]
A dietician, Khaled Thumairi states that everyone should pay heed to what they consume, and should aim to change any negative eating habits. He has stated that open buffets, makes a person want more than he needs which not only results in wastage but also results in obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Save money, save the environment and save your health, just by not wasting food. Now that’s a good deal, don’t you think?