Dubai and Riyadh remain food secure, despite challenges

A new report from Oliver Wyman said the UAE's ability to purchase food on the international market, even at higher costs, keeps it food secure
Dubai and Riyadh remain food secure, despite challenges
Oliver Wyman said that “food security is the most important issue of our time” and emphasised that there exists no ‘one size fits all solution’.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Mon 11 Feb 2019 11:04 AM

While both cities consume minimal amounts of domestically produced food, the strong economies of Riyadh and Dubai allow both cities to be food secure, according to a new report on food security from international management consultancy Oliver Wyman.

According to the report, which was launched at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Riyadh - with a population of over 6.9 million - suffers from a heavy reliance on imports, limited local production and increasing consumption.

Combined, the report noted that these factors “pose a significant risk to the city’s food security, particularly in time of low oil prices. Additionally, Saudi Arabia as a whole has the highest rate of food waste globally, with lifestyle changes and Western-style diets causing growing obesity issues.

On the other hand, the report noted that “oil revenue and subsidy programmes enable to country to meet all its food production requirements.”

In nearby Dubai, which has a population of approximately 2.7 million, the report said the emirate benefits from significant transport and logistical infrastructure, high income-per capita, low tariffs and barriers to trade, economic stability and inexpensive energy supply.

However, the report added that “although Dubai has diversified its import partners over the past years, it will have to go further to offset its lack of significant domestic production.”

The report said that while the UAE as a whole imports between 80 and 90 percent of its food supplies, it is considered food secure “due to its capacity to purchase food on the international market even if at higher costs.”

“Food consumption in the UAE is growing due to the influx of tourists and to overall population growth,” it added.

In a statement, Oliver Wyman said that “food security is the most important issue of our time” and emphasised that there exists no ‘one size fits all solution’.

“Our findings suggest that no city or country in the world is completely food secure,” said Mathieu de Clercq, partner, public sector, Oliver Wyman. “All cities from New York to Dubai face their own variant of food challenges and must develop their own way to address them.

“There is no unique solution to this challenge, but our food system model must be redefined from production to consumption factoring in issues of waste and loss,” he added.

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