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Saudi volunteers, with the Saudi Food Bank or Etaam, pack leftovers into boxes after a wedding in Riyadh on 3 July 2019. [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images]

The volume of global food waste reached 931 million tonnes in 2019, 40 million of which originated in the Arab world, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced in a report earlier this month.

According to the international organisation, Egypt came in first place, with a total of nine million tonnes of wasted food in 2019. Iraq came second, with 4.73 million tonnes of food waste, followed by Sudan (4.16 million tonnes), Algeria (3.91 million tonnes), Saudi Arabia (3.59 million tonnes), Morocco (3.31 million tonnes), Yemen (3.02 million tonnes), Syria (1.77 million tonnes), Tunisia (1.06 million tonnes). Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Oman, Mauritania, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain respectively had the least food waste.

The report pointed out that “households are not the only responsible for food waste,” adding that the waste had occurred “before a product reaches the end consumer.”

It explained that “food loss occurs along the food supply chain from harvest up to, but not including, the retail level. Food waste occurs at the retail, food service & consumption levels.”

“The report estimates that food waste from households, retail establishments and the food service industry totals 931 million tonnes each year. Nearly 570 million tonnes of this waste occurs at the household level,” it explained.

The UNEP stressed that it was seeking to reduce food waste by half by 2030.

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