ABU DHABI, 27th September, 2022 (WAM) — Each year the world produces more food than it consumes, yet as much as a third of all fresh food produced is loss or wasted before it reaches our tables, according to a recent study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Experts are calling for better and smarter food supply and to adopt industry-wide initiatives that seek to eliminate the current leaks in the system. They advise that the actors from the sector needs to take multi-stakeholders approaches to supply chains, which views them more as an ecosystem with each participant optimising their role and deploying the necessary technologies, processes, and methodologies to achieve zero waste through circular economy strategies.
The World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) Conference 2022, which will be held in the Middle East for the first time in October, will bring together major stakeholders shaping food systems, from government bodies, to food producers, wholesale market authorities, food banks, logisticians and university experts to discuss these critical issues.
Confirmed speakers will include Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Saeed Al Bahri Salem Al Ameri, Director-General, Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA); Graham Sanders, CEO, Abu Dhabi Food Hub – KEZAD; Mr. Stephane Layani, Chairman, World Union of Wholesale Markets; Chairman and CEO, Rungis International; and Mr. Pierre Levy, CEO and Co-Founder, Califrais.
“More sophisticated global food supply chains require greater infrastructure and training, but we must start building them now,” said Dr. Chris Mejía, a Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics and the Director and Founder of the MIT Food and Retail Operations Lab, who will be speaking at the WUWM event.
The conference will review some of the best practices being deployed in global markets that succeed in drastically reducing food waste. It will also profile some of the key projects being undertaken in the region to support enhanced food chains. AD Ports Group, the region’s premier facilitator of logistics, industry, and trade, is acting as host for the event.
Abdullah Al Hameli, CEO of Economic Cities & Free Zones, AD Ports Group, said: “Under the guidance of our wise leadership, the UAE is pursuing a strategy make our nation the world’s best in the Global Food Security Index by 2051. Reimagining the supply chains and enhancing the infrastructure around food distribution and development are among the top priorities we are pursuing.”
Earlier this year, the company announced that it is developing one of the region’s largest food trading and logistics centres at KEZAD Group, in partnership with Ghassan Aboud Group, a strategic sponsor of WUWM 2022, and in collaboration with Rungis.
Suresh Vaidhyanathan, Group CEO of the Ghassan Aboud Group, said, “We are committed to investing in the food value chain in the UAE. The development of the Abu Dhabi Food Hub – KEZAD in joint venture with AD Ports Group will help position the UAE as an important part of evolving global food supply chains, and our support for the WUWM Conference will help stimulate discussion around the global and regional challenges faced by the food industry.”
Graham Sanders, Chief Executive Officer, Abu Dhabi Food Hub – KEZAD, a WUWM sponsor, said: “Food security has reached a critical point in many parts of the world, and we can all agree that innovation in the food supply chain has gained paramount importance, if we are to prevent excess food wastage. The WUWM conference presents us with an ideal opportunity to demonstrate how the Abu Dhabi Food Hub – KEZAD and its advanced infrastructure will help optimise supply chains for the region, bring product diversity and enable consumers access to healthy and quality food products.”
Under the theme, “Global food security in the XXIs: Risks, challenges and solutions to ensure resilient and sustainable fresh food supply chains”, WUWM Abu Dhabi 2022 will be one most significant meetings of the global food industry held this year, building on the work of their 2021 conference which examined the food supply challenges in the post COVID-19 world.
Stephane Layani, WUWM Chairman, said: “Now is the time for action, the time to take bold steps to introduce measures that will enable each industry actor to act towards the transformation of food systems into sustainability and resilience. This conference will address supply chain risks but also the many exciting opportunities for increased cooperation as a vitally important global industry.”
Other topics set to be discussed at WUWM Abu Dhabi 2022 include logistics, the role of food hubs in ensuring healthy diets, and the role of digitalisation. The conference will take place from 19-20 October 2022 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.