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 experience a 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 face some serious food security challenges in the near future. The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. While food security issues are often viewed as a supply-side problem, this preliminary study endeavors to shed light on the demand side of the problem, by exploring the potential for improving food security by reducing wastage, altering consumption patterns and food subsidy. A sample of about 1,300 families (Kuwaitis and other Arab nationalities living in Kuwait) was surveyed. The data was analyzed to examine food consumptions and wastage patterns across different demographic groups and the effect of existing food subsidy policies. The findings suggest the presence of food wastage patterns due to household food preparation and management practices, in addition to government food subsidy. The prospects to improve food security using demand-side strategies in Kuwait seem to be realistic. The results suggest that further research is needed on demand-side food security strategies.