FAO in Egypt

Continued collaboration between FAO and the Egyptian Food Bank to reduce food waste


Cairo, Egypt - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in cooperation with the Egyptian Food Bank (EFB), launched a campaign to raise awareness on reducing food waste during the Holy Month of Ramadan in coordination with the Food Loss and Waste Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the Agricultural Economics Research Institute, affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.

Awareness campaigns on social media for the rational consumption of food during Ramadan

This campaign is organized for the second year in a row to raise awareness on the importance of optimizing the use of food and decreasing waste, while providing advice on how to benefit from leftover food and rationalizing purchasing habits of Egyptians during Ramadan by raising awareness in different formats via social media platforms on a daily basis.

This campaign comes within the efforts of both FAO and EFB to reduce food waste especially that studies reveal that the average volume of food wasted per capita in Egypt is about 91 kilograms per year, according to estimates by the National Center for Social and Criminological Research. According to the same entity, the percentage of food wasted increases on special occasions such as holidays and festivals where at least 60 percent of edible food is thrown away. In a study by FAO, about 50 percent of vegetables and fruits, 40 percent of fish, and 30 percent of milk and wheat are wasted every year in Egypt.

Globally, food loss and waste is prevalent in all food and agricultural systems. According to the FAO, about 931 million tonnes (or 17 percent) of the food available to consumers is thrown into the waste bins of households, restaurants, retailers, etc. in 2019, about 10 percent of which was discarded by households and about 5% and 2% of which was wasted by food service providers and retail outlets respectively. In the same year, during the harvest season, FAO revealed that 14% of the food produced globally was wasted and lost in post-harvest processes.

Nasreldin Hag El-Amin, FAO Representative in Egypt, said: “Food loss and waste is one of the biggest challenges facing food security and great efforts are required to educate consumers about the need to change their purchasing and consumption habits, especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan. While food needs in Egypt are growing, food loss and waste rates are increasing.”

He added: "In light of the successive crises, the latest of which was the Russian-Ukrainian war, which had significant effects at the local and global levels on food supply chains and thus on food security, it has become imperative for us to deal according to different levers with food loss and waste, as the loss and waste of vegetables and fruits represent 45 to 55 percent of the annual production in Egypt, which necessitates work at all levels to reduce these percentages.”

At his end, Mohsen Sarhan, CEO of the Egyptian Food Bank, said that food waste is one of the causes that exacerbate the climate crisis, especially in light of the self-ignition of food waste inside garbage dumps and the resulting generation of methane gas, which is classified among the buried gases that cause a phenomenal increase in global warming.

Sarhan added that it is necessary to change the culture of consumption, and to promote the idea of changing bad habits for the sake of future generations, in order to preserve resources, in light of the statistics that confirm that in 2022, approximately 87.8 tonnes of food were collected from restaurants and companies which could have fed 219,567 people and 2.5 tonnes of waste from hotels which could have fed another 6,485 people.

The CEO of the Food Bank stated that, in addition to distributing food packages during the month of Ramadan, the bank also conducts awareness campaigns to curb food waste, especially due to the high volume of consumption witnessed during the month in all Arab countries, explaining that the bank's wide outreach helps in increasing the impact of such campaigns.

FAO had implemented a project to reduce food loss and waste and develop the value chain to ensure food security in Egypt which was funded by the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation, which lasted for several years in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation. It adopted a food value chain development approach to reduce food loss and waste with a focus on post-harvest, processing and marketing phases, and promoting the adoption of a value chain approach.