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The Food Waste and Rescue in Israel Report

What does the report cover?

The Food Waste and Rescue in Israel Report, being published for the fourth year by Leket Israel and BDO Israel, addresses the problem of food waste in Israel in a variety of sectors. The inaugural report focused on food waste in the agricultural sector, the second publication of the report emphasized food waste in the institutional sector (hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, etc.) and in the third year the food loss in the retail and distribution sector.

This year, for the first time, the Report presents a detailed model for estimating food loss in the household consumption sector of households in Israel and compared to other countries around the world.

The 2019 report, released for the first time with Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, is intended to serve as the foundation for public discourse on the problem of food waste, and as a tool for developing national policy to change how food waste and rescue are handled in Israel.

This report, written and edited by BDO, is based on 2019 data, prior to the COVID-19 crisis. It includes a detailed model for estimating the environmental impact of food waste which is NIS 3.2 billion ($945 million).

The economic data shows that the financial consequences of the Coronavirus crisis include increased unemployment and less disposable household income, which are likely to exacerbate food insecurity in Israel. This only serves to highlight the importance of food rescue policy as a socio-economic tool that facilitates both rescuing food at one-third of its cost, and substantially reducing the loss of natural resources.

What is the issue of food waste?

Food waste occurs when food that is fit for human consumption is destroyed or allowed to spoil instead of being eaten. Food loss occurs at all stages of food manufacturing from production, storage, packaging and processing, to the retail and consumption stages.

According to the 2018 Food Waste and Rescue Report produced by Leket Israel and BDO, the volume of food loss in Israel stands at 5.5 million pounds at a value of about $5.5 billion, which constitutes about 35% of the volume of food production in Israel. Of this, there is a loss of salvageable food, that is edible food amounting to about 2.6 billion pounds and worth about $2 billion.

Food waste occurs when food that is fit for human consumption is either destroyed or becomes spoiled instead of being eaten. Food loss occurs at all stages of the food chain; manufacturing, production, storage, packaging and processing, to the retail and consumption stages.

Estimates in the report reveal that in Israel, in 2019, 2.5 million tons (5.5 billion pounds) of food, valued at NIS 20.3 billion (US $6 billion), was wasted, meaning that approximately 35% of domestic food production was lost. Of this amount, approximately 1.2 million tons (2.65 million pounds), worth NIS 7.1 billion (US $2.1 billion), was rescuable.

What are the report’s main conclusions?

This year’s Report includes a detailed model for the estimated loss of food in the household consumption sector. The volume of food loss in this sector amounted to 1,940 million pounds and a value of $2.2 billion. An average family in Israel throws away $890 a year, equivalent to a month and a half of food consumption, mainly due to the wasting of fruits and vegetables.

In addition, the Report reveals the impact of food loss on the cost of living: the effects of loss at all stages of the value chain increase the food prices by 11% and the loss of food harms the economy’s productivity due to lost production and labor inputs.

Following the recommendations of the Report, we hope that decision-makers in Israel will move from the declarations stage to the action stage and formulate a National policy that will bring about a real change in the patterns of food rescue in Israel.

The findings indicate that food rescue is beneficial from economic, social, and environmental perspectives. Every shekel invested in food rescue produces food with a direct value of US $3.6. When taking the environmental impact of food rescue into account, the economic value of each shekel invested in food rescue creates US $4.2 in value for the national economy.