x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

People buy far more food than they need

People in Middle East and North Africa buy almost 1,000 calories more per day than is needed.

ABU DHABI // Despite increasing prices, consumers in the region continue to buy and eat more food than they need, according to a government report released yesterday.

Each person needs an average of 2,700 calories a day, but residents in the Middle East and North Africa region purchase an average of 3,600 per day, the report said.

"This means that the person is either buying more food than they need or eating more food than they need," said Alaa el Din Moussa, a senior economic researcher at the Department of Economic Development, at a seminar titled Rising Food Prices: Challenges and Remedy Mechanisms.

Mr Moussa said the government's role was to guard against unnecessary price increases and to encourage agriculture.

"People need to understand the economic loss of letting food go to waste. If you look at the production cost of a plate of rice, you'll know how much is being wasted by not finishing it and throwing the rest away," Mr Moussa said.

For instance, it took 1,325 litres of water - the equivalent of 883 1.5litre water bottles - to grow a single kilogram of rice, he said.

Figures released by the Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi showed that the price of meat in the emirate went up by 9.12 per cent in 2010, while that of fish had risen by 5.6 per cent. The cost of eggs and dairy products had remained the same, while bread had decreased by 6.5 per cent. Worldwide, food prices increased 6.9 per cent in the same period.

The consumer price index for food in Abu Dhabi, which tracks the cost of 308 products, increased from 117 in January 2009 to 119.3 in January 2010 and 131.1 in January 2011.

Saeed al Romaithi, the vice chairman of the Union of Co-operative Societies, blamed the price increases on various factors, including poor harvests caused by bad weather and natural disasters, high oil prices, shortages in strategic reserves and population growth.

hdajani@thenational.ae