Kibsons at the heart of the better food systems debate bound for Cop28

The UAE farm-to-kitchen company is reshaping the way consumers shop for food and encouraging smarter thinking for a healthier planet

Kibsons offers an ever-increasing range of quality fresh fruit and vegetables from all continents

Leading grocery delivery company Kibsons says it is already answering the call for greener production processes as food security and sourcing enter the Cop28 spotlight later this month.

The UAE farm-to-kitchen company has been offering a strong and consistent focus on environmentally friendly food systems since it began operating in 1980, according to its chief executive and co-founder.

Halima Jumani says Kibsons “has delivered” when it comes to sustainable growing and online food delivery services, reshaping the way regional consumers shop for food, and encouraging smarter thinking for a kinder, healthier planet.

Focusing on the consumer cycle, Kibsons provides transparent sourcing and labelling information for customers, says Ms Jumani.

“The Cop28 summit brings the world’s eyes to the region, but crucially helps consumers consider their environmental impact and options in their daily lives,” she explains.

“At Kibsons, we have consistently taken steps to align with our own impact-based goals on food sourcing, growth and security.”

Kibsons says changing the food we eat and how we produce it has been an overlooked solution to some of the climate crisis “for too long” and food systems were “historically ignored” in global climate negotiations.

But the latter has been made a priority at Cop28, which takes place in Expo City Dubai from November 30.

This summer, Mariam Almheiri, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Cop28 food systems lead, invited governments to sign the Leaders' Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture and Climate Action.

The minister urged the country’s food and beverage sector to switch to "climate-conscious catering" at scale as the UAE seeks businesses that meet the objectives of the Impact pillar of The National Sustainability Campaign, launched in conjunction with Cop28 preparations.

Kibsons is a very public example of the kind of business that fits the brief.

“We want to ensure that our customers know where their food comes from, how it is handled and how we as a business are operating as sustainably as possible through our processes, which we have been refining for the past 40 years as a UAE-grown and family owned entity,” said Ms Jumani.

“By controlling our own dedicated importing, warehousing, distribution, IT and customer service teams we can optimise product quality and ultimately improve value to thousands of private households in the UAE, whilst controlling our company carbon footprint and minimising emissions, waste and more where we can.”

Seven years on from launching its reusable blue box home delivery services to households - thereby expanding beyond its wholesale-only model - the firm has implemented steps as part of the Kibsons Cares initiative to reduce its carbon footprint, and to continue striving towards its own environmental impact goals.

Solar panel use has brought a 50 per cent reduction in electricity use during winter months at Kibsons’ 13,000-square-metre facility in Ras Al Khor, Dubai, and 25 per cent less consumption on average annually.

Meanwhile, an in-house water recycling plant is on track to recycle more than 75 per cent of the supply used to keep its demanding cold storage facility operating - by filtering and purifying utilised water, the company can save 1 million gallons a year.

More than 90 per cent of all plastic and paper at the Kibsons facility is recycled and 100 per cent of organic waste is composted. The company’s plant converts its biodegradable waste material into high-quality organic compost - half a tonne a month - thereby reducing landfill and carbon footprint where possible.

The most visible example of the Kibsons sustainability effort is those distinctive delivery boxes, which it collects from customer homes on request after a delivery, then sanitises and reuses to prevent packaging waste.

The company was the first in the UAE to transition to paper-based packaging and enable consumers to choose a "no packaging" delivery option when they place their online order; customers can opt for having items packed in eco-friendly recycleable paper bags, or without bags where possible.

Historically catering only to airlines, catering companies, restaurants and hotels, Kibsons now offers all consumers an ever-increasing range of quality fresh fruit and vegetables from all continents.

It sells a wide range of imported and processed meat and poultry products and supplies a broad selection of premium produce options, organic, bulk packs, pre-packs and ready-to-eat products to retail and wholesale customers in the UAE and beyond.

By controlling its dedicated importing, warehousing, distribution, IT and customer service teams, the company says it can optimise product quality and ultimately improve value for thousands of private UAE households.

To further prevent food waste, Kibsons offers an "ugly but tasty" range of fruits and vegetables, allowing customers to purchase imperfect or nearing-expiration produce at a discount.

Citing that food systems contribute to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, Ms Jumani says Kibsons is aligning its own goals with those generated by climate change challenges.

“Collectively, as an industry in the region, we must work together to transform food systems towards net-zero emissions, a restoration of natural resources and also boost the resilience of the local sector,” she said.

“For Kibsons, this starts at 'home' and we will continue to educate our consumers on not just the benefits for themselves, but also our processes to highlight what is possible for other regional entities - and that it is possible to do so at scale.”

Updated: November 28, 2023, 2:19 AM