environment minister UAE Abu Dhabi Ne'ma event
Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister for Climate Change and Environment, addressing the Ne'ma event in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: If you want to help reduce food wastage in the UAE, it’s best not to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, a top UAE minister has recommended, among other tips.

Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister for Climate Change and Environment, said households must play a big role in cutting food waste, especially as global statistics indicate that 60 per cent of food is wasted at this level than by food producers or retailers.

Individual responsibility

She stressed the need for individuals to take the responsibility just as serious as industrial and government players.

“President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has spoken about his concern [regarding food waste and loss], and said that it is not just producers [who must take action]. We have a role to play as consumers. He also basically named [the initiative] when he said: ‘Food is blessing. Food is ne’ma [the Arabic word for blessing],” Al Mheiri told Gulf News on the sidelines of a breakfast discussion on the Ne’ma initiative.

Ne’ma initiative

Launched by the Emirates Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, Ne’ma is aiming to cut the UAE’s Dh6 billion annual food waste by half within 2030.

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“The key is partnerships, collaborative efforts, and support for stakeholders who have ideas under the national vehicle of Ne’ma. Ne’ma reflects Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed’s vision, and it includes the smallest idea in a household to the biggest innovations,” Al Mheiri said.

Minister’s tips

Speaking candidly, the minister also offered a number of valuable tips for households to minimise food waste:

• Planning meals ahead and planning them better is good practice.

• Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach.

• Buy only what is needed, and don’t get tricked by offers that give you two for the price of one. You might not need or use it, so it is better to get just one.

• Remember that overstocking might lead you to put more things into the bin because they expire before you can get to them.

• When entertaining guests, make sure you prepare the amount that is actually needed for your guests. Don’t be ashamed if some of the dishes that you serve finish during the meal, because it means you are not wasting anything.

• Serve less on your own plate: in the UAE, we all eat too much.

• Share leftovers with other household members, or pop it into the fridge and repurpose it for the next day.

• Make more use of your freezer to store foods you don’t want to have immediately.