Battling food losses and waste in Saudi Arabia: Mobilizing regional efforts and blending indigenous knowledge to address global food security challenges
Food Loss andWaste (FLW) that entail substantial economic, environmental, and social cost is of great concern for a country fulfilling > 80% of food demands through the import of agricultural commodities. The current study mainly aimed at bringing together a wide range of perspectives on FLWby multi-stakeholder engagement in order to enhance cooperation and network building with respect to sharing knowledge and experiences on FLW prevention activities along the entire food supply chain for a country located at the geographic frontier facing stubborn challenges of desertification, water scarcity, and harsh climatic conditions. These challenges are not only being addressed at the national level but have also been made the focus of multilateral activities in 2020 as part of the Saudi G20 Presidency. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture under the umbrella of the G20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) hosted a regional workshop on FLWin collaboration with the Thünen Institute, Germany, to raise awareness among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The present paper provides insights into the current status of FLW by revealing that, overall, 33.1% of the total available food in the Kingdom is lost and wasted during the entire food supply chain. Overall, the GCC countries witnessed higher percentages of food waste compared with food losses. Environmental conditions prevailing in the region necessitate the development of adequate and appropriate cold chain storage facilities for balanced distribution through cold storage transportation facilities along the food supply chain to minimize food losses. However, campaigns and activities to raise awareness with a view of changing attitudes towards reducing FLWby the adoption of good practices, promoting the concept of circular economy practices, and the establishment of food banks for surplus food redistribution are important to mitigate FLW in the Kingdom.