As a leading investment group in the food and retail sectors, what is the role of Savola in endorsing the national food security and sustainable resource management?
The Savola Group has grown and evolved, crossing national borders and affecting millions of lives across the MENAT region, and it is investing strategically focusing on the food and retail sectors. The group is leveraging its wide geographical outreach to influence economically and socially responsible behavioral change among its consumers and stakeholders. Therefore, Savola's sustainability efforts are integrated in our business strategy and they are linked to the group's core business objectives, competencies and expertise in the food industry. By the same token, and adopting the Saudi Arabia's 2030 Vision strategic objectives that entail ensuring sustainable food security and optimizing the use of resources for the Kingdom and to respond to the global concern of alerting amounts of the annual wasted edible food at 1.3 billion tons (FAO.org, 2016), we introduced “Negaderha,” our food waste management program. “Negaderha” is one of the programs offered by Savola World, the Group's Sustainability and CSR Platform. Through Negaderha, we are working passionately to decrease food wastage on a national level by raising awareness about the threats it poses and by adopting internationally proven practices to drive behavioral change toward optimal food resource management.
Can you tell us more about Negaderha framework and objectives?
Savola's Negaderha project is a food waste program developed to address food wastage as a national issue. The project works on conducting research to obtain an in-depth understanding of the drivers, actors and volumes of food waste in Saudi Arabia; and accordingly putting up an action plan and frameworks to create sustainable behavioral change with regards to food conservation and management based on the best international practices, which will contribute to the National Strategy for Food Security. Negaderha tackles food waste issue on different levels, and currently we are targeting two main segments of the society: the Households and the HORECA (the sector of the food industry referring to hotels, restaurants, and cafés) sector.
Is Negaderha interested in forming partnerships?
To effectively realize its goals, Negaderha is in collaboration with several international and local organizations. Speaking of this, I would like to highlight our engagement with The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), by which Savola utilizes their technical expertise and garners the buy-in of regulators and enablers to scale its efforts on a national level. Negaderha has also collaborated with The Waste Resources Action Program (WRAP), and through this partnership, Negaderha aims to acquire a license to use WRAP's know-how which includes strategic guidelines, frameworks and specific tools and tips on food waste management. We have also built strategic local partnerships and we signed MOUs with nearly twenty national NGOs that specialize in food waste management in the country. The main objectives of Negaderha's NGOs Alliance are to activate the partnership and expand on the competencies of each sector for effective upcoming initiatives and to support Negaderha as execution and operational arms in the Kingdom.
How does Negaderha achieve success in reaching its target audience?
Regarding the Household, we provide diverse technical tips & tools that cover the full consumption cycle to include the main pillars that encompass the program: grocery shopping, storage tips, portion planning and leftover food tips and recipes. We have also conducted a number of promoted on-ground and digital campaigns to create better engagement and drive behavioral change within our target segments. Negaderha main communication campaign falls within the month of Ramadan, which is mostly associated with the wasteful practices. The campaign aims to boost awareness of the cause and encourage the community to embrace and practice the technical methods provided by Negaderha. Our most recent digital Ramadan campaign achieved a stunning success in accomplishing above 4000,000 social reach and it witnessed an outstanding social engagement and interaction. Correspondingly, Negaderha extends its efforts to the HORECA sector, as well. In 2017, and in partnership with Jeddah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Negaderha produced “the Guiding Manual for Food Waste Management in the HORECA Sector.” This manual aims to instill behavioral change, raise awareness and empower the business owners and employees in the HORECA sector by providing technical and operational guidelines and tips to minimize food wastage that may appear at any level of the food consumption cycle. This manual won the Award of Prince Khalid Al-Faisal Center for Moderation, under community partnerships- in December of 2017. Negaderha has also collaborated with some local NGOs and was able through this engagement to save leftover food collected from HORECA entities, and then distributed more than 1,000,000 food containers to 143,000 beneficiaries kingdom-wide.
In which ways does research make a solid foundation for Negaderha Program?
As an initiation phase of launching Negaderha, a field research was conducted to quantify food waste across Saudi Arabia by food category/item. The scope of this project covered the mapping and measurement of food waste in the household segment across the major Saudi Arabian's cities. The research included qualitative and quantitative measures, consisting of the compositional analysis of purchasing and waste behaviors. This produced detailed data representing the weight and the count of different food categories, top wasted categories and possible reasons behind food waste. Similarly related, Negaderha is keen on measuring the program's adequacy and performance. The working team conducted a Survey Research Project in order to measure both the community & HORECA sector awareness about: food waste as a social issue and the technical solutions offered by the program. A year after launching Negaderha, we were able to build a statistical baseline and we reported favorable responses of elevated societal awareness on food waste management practices. We aim to conduct these measurement surveys periodically, to enable us to enhance our project, and maximize and measure the social impact of the program.
In your opinion, how does food waste represent a threat for the nation?
The staggering amount of food waste not only puts food security at risk, but also spells out dire social, economic and environmental consequences. On economical level, and based on Negaderha research: SAR70 million is the value of wasted food daily in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, and according to the MOEA report presented during a seminar in Riyadh called "Reducing Food Waste- 2016: “Saudi Arabia is ranked as one of the world's worst food wasters, the country is at the top of world rankings for both importing and wasting food where it maintains a high level of food wastage with 3,920,000 million tons thrown away every year and 28% of it is organic food, which is worth USD35 million of food every day amounting to USD13 billion per year. Realizing the amount of economic loss should propel a comprehensive national movement for change. Relatively related, the considerable environmental impacts of food waste including but not limited to: the contribution to global warming & climate change, water depletion, waste of natural resources and negative impacts on biodiversity. Through Negaderha, we aim to raise environmental awareness to sensitize the Saudi population on the importance of food waste management, by increasing awareness of hygiene and public health to ensure people understand the impact on the environment, health and well-being in general.
As a group that has a pioneering role in sustainability and CSR, what would be your advice to other companies and sectors?
We at Savola encourage all the businesses across the various industries to be role models that personify sustainability in all of their business activities and functions, in complete harmony with the ecosystem to prosper in creating a better world for generations ahead. The collaboration between the public, private, and non-profit sector is also crucial in order to build sustainable development and drive change in a way that grants the Kingdom a leading position in all fields.