Arab Bread Day 2023 - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
10 July 2023

Beirut time

Expert Group Meeting

Arab Bread Day 2023

Arab Bread Day Logo
  • UN House, Beirut, Lebanon
Contact information

Arab Bread Day is celebrated every year by the Arab Federation for Food Industries (AFFI) to mark the anniversary of the first Arab conference for the grain industry held in Jordan in 1984.

This year, ESCWA is collaborating with AFFI to celebrate Arab Bread Day 2023, under the slogan "Our Loaf... Our Strength". On this occasion, a symposium is held to shed light on the wheat and bread industry in the Arab region and discuss a number of challenges, including the impact of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, climate change and national and regional conflicts.

Outcome document

  • To provide a healthy and sustainable bread loafs, it is necessary to consider a package of interconnected and intertwined policies that include multiple sectors to address the factors leading to increased wheat and bread consumption and promote dietary diversification. These policies include alleviating poverty, reviewing the use of relevant subsidies and incentives, implementing programs to reduce food and energy waste.
  • Raising awareness about consuming bread that contains whole grains and acceptable salt levels to ensure healthier lives with higher nutritional value. Providing options such as whole grain bread, organic products, and gluten-free products to meet the needs of individuals with special needs or different dietary preferences.
  • Setting standards for bread production and establishing an Arab standard, as well as working on drafting laws to make bread healthier and protect consumers.
  • Enhancing wheat production in the region where it is environmentally and economically feasible, considering the scarce natural resources, especially land and water, and working towards wheat/food sovereignty.
  • Establishing Arab schools and vocational institutes to train and qualify the workforce for bakery and milling work, supporting small bakeries, and increasing employment opportunities.
  • Allocating a day for Arab farmers to support them due to their direct connection to food production and safety.
  • Working on improving consumer behaviors and habits to ensure the continued availability of supported wheat and bread without adding challenges to government budgets.
  • Diversifying import sources, shortening and simplifying the food supply chain, and building proper storage facilities (such as silos and projects that focus on reviving local wheat, like the Jordanian case study) to build resilience against shocks, and calling for fairness in the global trade system to ensure the stability of wheat and bread supplies.
  • Providing assistance to the Arab Federation of Food Industries to issue the Arab Encyclopedia of Heritage Foods to preserve our heritage and food security.
  • Conducting a comprehensive inventory of all bread production sites, including ovens and bakeries, to measure the actual production volume.

On behalf of Mr. Mounir Tabet, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCWA, Ms. Reem Al-Najdawi (ESCWA) inaugurated the conference and emphasized the importance of bread in achieving Arab food security from the perspectives of health and sustainability. Then, Mr. Haitham Al-Jaffan, President of the Arab Federation of Food Industries, highlighted on the significance of celebrating Arab bread day and its role in unifying our traditional dietary habits. Syrian Minister of Agriculture, His Excellency Mr. Mohammed Hassan Qatana, provided an overview of wheat and grain production in the country, discussing the balance between imports and consumption. Finally, Lebanese Minister of Agriculture, His Excellency Mr. Abbas Hajj Hassan, shared a video message emphasizing the importance of bread production, wheat and grain production, and the necessity of regional cooperation. After welcoming the participants, Mr. Abdullah Nassereddin, Advisor to the Minister, emphasized the need to enhance self-sufficiency, empower the agricultural sector, and reduce reliance on wheat and grain imports.

The first session began with a presentation by Ms. Estelle AlJammal on the current status and opportunities of the Arab bread in the face of resource scarcity in the Arab region. The current situation of bread and wheat in the Arab region and the challenges faced in wheat and grain production and their impact on food security in the region were discussed. Promising opportunities that should be taken into account in the Arab region were also highlighted. The interventions followed by Mr. Nasr Al-Obaid, Mr. Ahmed Al-Hajj, Mr. Imad Al-Tarawneh, Mr. Bassam Abu Ghalyoun, Mr. Rabee Zreikat, and Ms. Mirna Sarkis addressed topics related to ensuring the availability of wheat and bread in the Arab region. Studies and research on available seed varieties in the region were presented, as well as strategies to address challenges related to wheat storage methods, whether in traditional silos and their impact on Arab food security and supply chains. Some promising experiences in the production and consumption of local wheat and the production of healthy bread relying on local raw materials were showcased. Ms. Reem Najdawi chaired the session.

Participants in this session included Ms. Lara Nasr al-Din, Ms. Munira Al-Hashimi, Ms. Shurooq Al-Mouraqtan, Mr. George Khayat, and Ms. Nada Nehme. The discussions focused on addressing the health challenges related to Arab bread and emphasized the importance of incorporating nutritional elements in it to ensure consumer health and, consequently, food security. The session also emphasized the importance of maintaining high production standards during the process of transforming wheat or other grains into bread as a food product. There was a focus on wheat consumption and the necessity of prioritizing standard safety measures at all stages of the wheat and bread supply chain, with an emphasis on the importance of quality control and monitoring to ensure safe and healthy consumption. The session was chaired by Mr. Fadi Jabr.

Mr. Mohammed Al-Ni emphasized the necessity of Arab collaboration to unify efforts in addressing the challenges facing the region. Ms. Nada Al-Ajizi highlighted the importance of the two projects implemented by the League of Arab States related to eliminating hunger and addressing food loss and waste. Mr. Abdul Latif Al-Amin discussed topics related to strategies and approaches to mitigate the challenges facing wheat and the impact of international conflicts on Arab food security.

During the closing session, the organizers emphasized the importance of implementing the key messages and recommendations. Despite resource scarcity in the Arab region, there is still potential to enhance sustainable production in some countries to ensure safe, healthy, and sustainable bread. The recommendations emphasized regional cooperation and the revitalization of the bread production industry. They also focused on enhancing the nutritional value of bread, promoting organic agriculture to boost production, strengthening professional capacities, establishing schools for workforce training in the field, and addressing the growing consumption through raising awareness about bread production from whole grains.

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