Food Consumption and Waste in Kuwait: the Prospects for Demand-Side Approach to Food Security
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According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Arab countries (with population of around 367 Million) import about 50% of their food needs. These countries enjoy rapid population growth rate of around 2.3% per year, and suffer from declining agricultural production due to urbanization, dwindling water supplies, and desertification. Many of these countries are predicted to run into a serious food security crisis in the near future. The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. Food security is often tackled as a supply-side issue. This study endeavors to shed light on the demand side and explore the potential for improving food security by altering patterns of dietary intake and reducing food wastage. The study used a survey method to examine food consumption patterns among the cosmopolitan Arab population of Kuwait. There appears to be widespread food wastage due to household food preparation, management, preservation and subsidy. The potential to improve food security exists based on changing dietary intake and food management behavior. A sample of about 1,200 families (Kuwaitis and other Arab nationalities living in Kuwait) was surveyed. The data was analyzed to examine food consumptions and waste patterns across different demographic groups and the findings confirm the presence of food wastage. The results are used as a basis for further research on demand-side food security policy options.