The problem of food wastage in Ramadan has again surfaced with Makkah municipality having to gather 5,000 tons in the first three days of Ramadan. According to one report, Saudis spend SR20 billion on Ramadan shopping, compared to SR6 billion they spend in other months.
Osama Al-Zaituny of the municipality told Arab News on Thursday that this was in addition to the collection of 28,000 sheep carcasses in two days. He said the municipality has installed 45 waste compressors in central Makkah close to the Grand Mosque, and deployed 8,000 cleaners for the month.
At the beginning of Ramadan, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry expressed concern that 45 percent of the waste in Ramadan consists of food. It also revealed that 80 percent of the food prepared is unhealthy.
An estimated 4,500 tons of food is wasted every day in Saudi Arabia, according to a study conducted by King Saud University. The study showed that 30 percent of the 4 million dishes prepared daily during Ramadan go waste, which amounts to SR1.2 million, and social scientists said it was an “unacceptable behavior.”
The Kingdom is the world’s top food importer, and also rated as one of the worst wasters.
The collection of food waste in Ramadan is an uphill task, more so than at any other time of the year, an Indian supervisor of a leading cleaning company contracted to the municipality told Arab News on Thursday, requesting anonymity.
Officials from the Islamic Affairs Ministry have urged the public to cook smaller meals for iftar to prevent wastage. The ministry distributes over 10,000 iftar meals every day in the Eastern Province.
Qassim Municipality is planning to establish an organic fertilizer factory with food waste in Buraidah, which is over 24,000 tons in Ramadan, according to reports.
Experts say that people tend to buy more food than they need in Ramadan. They also cook fresh food daily rather than consume the leftovers for suhoor or iftar the following day. In addition, many people in the Kingdom donate too much food during the holy month, which also results in wastage. Wasted food globally is reportedly estimated at 1.3 billion tons, worth SR2.8 billion.