A LOAF SAVED IS LOAF EARNED

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Civic-minded groups like Savola are leading the fight against threats to national food security.

Anees Ahmed Moumina
BIOGRAPHY
Anees Ahmed Moumina has over 25 years of experience in the private sector and financial services industry. Previously CEO of SEDCO Holding Group, he also worked with the Samba Financial Group where he advanced to General Manager and Senior Credit Officer. He also worked with Proctor & Gamble Co. His career has given him experience across a variety of business sectors, including retail, education, healthcare, hospitality, real estate development, manufacturing, transportation, and financial investments. He is vice chairman of the Savola Food Company, the Panda Retail Company, and Herfy. He holds an MS in engineering administration and a BS in civil engineering from George Washington University.

As a leading investment group in the food and retail sectors, what is the Savola's role 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 MENA region. It is investing strategically by 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 into our business strategy and linked to the group's core business objectives, competencies, and expertise in the food industry. By the same token, it is adopting the strategic objectives of Saudi Arabia's 2030 Vision, thus ensuring sustainable food security and optimizing the use of resources for the Kingdom. In responding to rising global concern over the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted annually, we introduced Negaderha, our own food waste management program. Offered by Savola World, the group's sustainability and CSR platform, 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 the Negaderha framework and objectives?

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 to put into action a plan and framework to create sustainable behavioral change with regards to food conservation and management based on the best international practices. Negaderha tackles food waste at different levels. Currently we are targeting two main segments of the society: households and the hotels, restaurants, and cafés (HORECA) sector.
Is Negaderha interested in forming partnerships?
To effectively realize its goals, Negaderha is collaborating with several international and local organizations. Speaking of this, I would like to highlight our engagement with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), through 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). 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 signed MoUs with nearly 20 national NGOs that specialize in food waste management in the country.

How does Negaderha achieve success in reaching its target audience?

Regarding the household market, we provide diverse technical tips and tools that cover the full consumption cycle: 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's main communication campaign falls within the month of Ramadan, which is associated with the most 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 by achieving outstanding social engagement and interaction. Correspondingly, Negaderha is also extending its efforts in the HORECA sector.

How does food waste represent a threat to the nation?

The staggering amount of food waste not only puts our food security at risk, but also spells out dire social, economic, and environmental consequences. From an economic perspective, based on Negaderha's research, SAR70 million of food is wasted daily in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the country is at the top of world rankings for both importing and wasting food, with nearly 4 million tons thrown away every year, 28% of which is organic. This amounts to USD35 million worth of food every day, or USD13 billion per year. Realizing the amount of economic loss should propel a comprehensive national movement for change.