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UAE National Survey Reveals Challenges in Tackling Food Waste

The survey, titled 'How the UAE Eats,' gathered responses from 6,083 residents, revealing food waste behaviour and opinions.

The first-ever national household survey conducted across seven emirates in the UAE reveals that over half of the residents are struggling to minimize food waste. 

The survey, titled ‘How the UAE eats,’ collected responses from 6,083 residents, providing insights into food waste behavior and attitudes.

The magnitude of Food Waste in the UAE:

An estimated 40 percent of annually prepared food in the UAE is wasted, amounting to Dh6 billion in economic losses. Globally, 61 percent of food wastage occurs at the household level. 

The national survey aims to guide Ne’ma, the UAE’s food loss and waste initiative, in designing policies to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

Approximately 57 percent of households recognize the negative impact of discarding edible food on the environment. The awareness of the environmental consequences of food waste is substantial, and there is a collective desire to address the issue.

Challenges in Avoiding Food Waste:

Despite acknowledging food waste as a significant concern, 67 percent of citizens and 55 percent of expatriates find it challenging to avoid wasting food. Behavioral decisions related to food consumption contribute to the complexity of the issue.

Survey results indicate frequent dining out and ordering takeaways contribute to food waste. Approximately 57 percent of residents order takeaway meals more than once a week, accumulating excess food. The study highlights the need for a nuanced understanding of consumer behavior.

Impact on Fresh Produce and Shopping Habits:

Fresh produce, particularly bread and bakery items (36 percent), vegetables (34 percent), and fruits (31 percent), is more likely to be wasted at home. Shopping habits, such as buying during special offers and in bulk, contribute to high food waste in the UAE.

The survey indicates a lack of information and understanding about reducing food waste. While 60 percent of respondents engage in some form of planning, 25 percent admit to buying food without a clear purpose. 

Additionally, 65 percent check ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates, but only 16 percent understand the labels’ meanings.

Support for Solutions and Municipal Initiatives:

Residents express support for various solutions, including the introduction of food waste collection by municipalities (77 percent), inspections of businesses and restaurants to prevent food waste (75 percent), and timely prompts on food delivery apps with quantity recommendations (71 percent). 

The findings underscore the importance of behavioral considerations in addressing global emissions and promoting sustainability.

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