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Report: Israelis threw out 2.5 million tons of food last year

Leket Israel, in partnership with BDO, released its Fourth Annual Food Waste and Rescue Report on Tuesday.

The report presents, for the first time in Israel, a detailed model for the estimation of food loss in the household consumption sector, its value and impact on households in Israel and how Israelis compare to other countries around the world.

The Food Waste and Rescue Report reveals that food loss in Israel this year amounts to 2.5 million tons (5.5 billion pounds) with a market value of 19.7 billion shekels (US $5.5 billion), 35% of all food produced. Almost half of this loss, 1.2 million tons (2.6 billion pounds), is rescuable and valued at 7 billion shekels (US $2 billion).

The findings of the report show that the loss in household consumption in Israel amounts to approximately 880,000 tons (1,940 million pounds) of food, at a value of 7.9 billion shekels (US $2.2 billion). An average Israeli family throws out food worth 3,200 shekels (US $890) per year, equivalent to a month and a half of household food consumption expenditure. The majority of the wasted food are fruits and vegetables, with Israeli households wasting 23% as compared to the US at 28% and Europe at 19%.

The report reveals the impact of food loss on the cost of living: the effects of loss at all stages of the value chain increases food prices by 11% and the loss of food impairs productivity in the economy due to production and labor loss.

To close the food insecurity gap in Israel, necessitates the rescue of 20% of food wasted worth approximately 3 billion shekels (US $834 million). Food rescue makes this possible at a cost of only 830 million shekels (US $230 million), 72% of the cost. This can be accomplished without even quantifying its environmental benefits.

According to Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel: “The report brings to light that the average Israeli family is throwing away a month and a half’s worth of food consumption every year at a value of 3,200 shekels (US $890). Instead of providing a targeted solution, such as fighting the prices of cottage cheese and dairy products, the State of Israel must recognize the many advantages of food rescue and formulate a national policy, set goals and prepare a budget. The national plan should cover the entire food value chain – from agriculture to retail and marketing to household consumption. In October 2018, the Knesset acknowledged the multiple benefits of food rescue and approved the law, ‘The Food Donation Act.’ It is the responsibility of the next government to formally adopt food rescue as the primary solution to eliminating food insecurity in Israel and to place this crisis as a central issue on its agenda – economic, social and environmental.”

According to Chen Herzog, Chief Economist at BDO: “The cost of food loss, ultimately directly impacts the consumers’ pockets and affects the cost of living in Israel, causing an 11% increase in food prices. In addition, food loss impairs productivity in the economy due to production and labor loss. Therefore, policy for food rescue and redistributing it to disadvantaged sectors of the population is an effective economic plan in Israel, where a large part of household expenditure is on food. Food rescue is a winning solution, which closes the food insecurity gap by a direct savings of 2.2 billion shekels (US $604 million). When quantifying the social and environmental benefits, it’s a savings to the economy of more than 4.5 billion shekels (US $1.2 billion).”

In 2018, Leket Israel rescued 2.2 million cooked meals from IDF army bases, hotels catering companies, and restaurants and 15.5 thousand tons (51 million pounds) of agricultural produce worth 150 million shekels (US $41.5 million). All this rescued food was then redistributed to 175,000 needy people weekly through Leket Israel’s network of 200 nonprofit agency partners throughout Israel.