By Parag Deulgaonkar
GCC food consumption forecast to rise to 59.2m metric tonnes in 2021 from 48.1m in 2016
The total food wastage in the UAE is estimated at $3.5 billion (AED12.84 billion) per year, according to investment bank Alpen Capital.
“More than 3 million tonnes are wasted annually in the UAE, which is worth $3.5bn,” Mahboob Murshed, managing director, Alpen Capital (ME) Limited, told Arabian Business on Wednesday.
He said food wastage is high in the country despite the UAE having the most developed supply chain infrastructure among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
“The inadequate number of warehouses and cold storages as well as shortage of transportation infrastructure results in food wastage, which in turn, is adversely affecting operational efficiency and leading to higher costs,” Murshed said.
Last month, Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced the formation of the UAE Food Bank, aimed at eliminating food waste and making Dubai the first city in the Middle East to achieve zero food waste.
On the global level, a report by University of Edinburgh found almost a fifth of the world’s food is lost to over-eating and waste, with the world’s population consuming around 10 percent more food than it needs and wasting almost nine percent.
In its 'Gulf Food Industry 2017' report, Alpen Capital said food consumption in the GCC is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2 percent from an estimated 48.1 million metric tonnes (MT) in 2016 to 59.2 million MT in 2021, owing to an increase in the consumer base and a higher per capita income.
Food consumption in Saudi Arabia is likely to grow at an average of 4.2 percent a year to 37.7 million MT while the UAE is projected to increase by 4.4 percent to 10.1 million MT by 2021, the report said.
Among the primary growth drivers for food consumption is the increase in population, which will increase by 6.5m between 2016 and 2021. The regional population is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 2.3 percent from an estimated 53.9 million last year to 60.5 million in 2021.
“Economic growth in the region is expected to gradually gather momentum in line with stability in the oil prices and expansion of the non-oil sectors. Subsequently, GDP per capita in the region is projected to expand annually by 3.7 percent between 2016 and 2020, a strong indicator of increasing food consumption,” Murshed added.