Understanding and addressing waste of food in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Mirza Barjees Baig, Irena Gorski, Roni A. Neff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Multiple estimates suggest the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) may have one of the highest rates of wasted food globally. The KSA has limited arable lands and scarce water and thus relies on extensive imports and food subsidies to meet food demand. Accordingly, waste and loss of food are a significant concern for food security. Materials and methods: A narrative literature review was performed to identify the available information relevant to characterizing the context, magnitude of food wasted in the KSA, key contributing factors, and existing interventions and recommendations. Results: Estimates of annual per capita waste of food ranged from 165 kg to 511 kg. Given the country's relatively limited agricultural production, the consumer and retail levels are primary targets for intervention. Key contributors to waste include culture, food valuation, policy and industry factors, and awareness and concern. The country is at an early stage of developing responses. We build upon existing approaches and recommendations, with particular emphasis on the potential role of agricultural extension staff in addressing the issue, and highlight research needs. Conclusions: Given the potentially exceptional levels of wasted food in the KSA and the extensive evidence gaps, there is a great need for further research and action. Our review and synthesis presents numerous opportunities to advance innovative waste reduction approaches in the country, with particular relevance for other parts of the Middle East and other areas early in their efforts to address waste of food.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1633-1648
Number of pages16
JournalSaudi Journal of Biological Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Agricultural extension
  • Consumer behavior
  • Control measures
  • Drivers
  • Food waste
  • Recent estimates
  • Saudi Arabia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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