Food rescue in Israel can minimize nutritional insecurity gap

 


RA’ANANA, ISRAEL—More than 2.5 million tons of edible food, with a market value of NIS8 billion (roughly US$2 billion) is wasted in Israel annually, according to an inaugural report, Food Waste and Rescue in Israel: The Economic, Social and Environmental Impact, released today, Jan. 6, 2016, by global consulting group BDO Ziv Haft and Leket Israel, the national food bank.

The report, the first of its kind in Israel, highlights the economic, social and environmental benefits of rescuing unused food for the more than two million Israeli citizens living below the poverty line. BDO applied a unique model that evaluated the loss of food in Israel throughout the chain of value: from agriculture to packaging, industry, distribution, and ultimately the consumer.

Through percentage of loss they evaluated the extent of rescued food translated into economic terms.

The findings of the report also revealed that in total NIS18 billion worth of food was wasted in Israel in 2015 alone, a figure that represents 1.6% of the national GDP. Accumulated food loss during all stages of the chain of value is 85kg per household, value at NIS 616. About 75% of the food loss, in quantitative terms, is the loss of fruits and vegetables.


According to the report, NIS 3 billion worth of food rescued annually is what is needed to bridge the gap between the normative expenditure of the general population and those suffering from food insecurity. In laymen’s terms, NIS3 billion is what is needed to turn the “food insecure” population from insecure to secure. Meaning, the rescue of 600,000 tons of food, constituting just 25 percent of all food waste in Israel and valued at NIS 3 billion, would address this food consumption gap.

Food rescue is clearly preferable compared to the alternative of attempting to bridge this food insecurity gap by means of allocations, donations, subsidies or support for the needy. Leket Israel is meeting this need by distributing over 30 million pounds of produce and manufactured perishable goods annually. Today, with the assistance of donations and 58,000 annual volunteers, Leket Israel operates the country’s foremost food rescue organization by reclaiming and distributing over a half million pounds of nutritious food every week to benefit Israel’s poor.

“The research demonstrates the significant economic and social impact of food rescue to Israel’s national economy. Rescuing 25 percent of food waste translates to a savings of NIS 3 billion, equivalent to the food purchasing gap between the food insecure and food secure, said the CEO of Leket Israel Gidi Kroch. The cost of such food rescue is 75% lower than the alternative of providing support, subsidies or allowances to the needy, and additionally offers significant environmental benefits. The revelations of this report are proof of the benefits, successes and overall impact of food rescue initiatives. “


“This must be acknowledged by the Israeli Parliament as well as the leadership of other countries and serve as motivation to adopt such initiatives on a national scale,” urged Kroch. “Even modest gains at cutting waste dramatically improves societal conditions, and does so at a relatively low cost. The price of adopting a food rescue program is significantly less expensive than the many social welfare programs being used all around the world.”

“Lack of food rescue is a result of a market failure, whereby perception is that food rescue has no cost-benefit to the national economy.  Here in lies the dissonance because, the market price of the lost food does not reflect the value of the food when it is transferred to consumption of the food-insecure population. In addition to that, food-rescue has socio-environmental contributions, and therefore the benefits of food rescue to the economy is significantly larger than the market price of the food saved “ said Chen Herzog, Chief Economist of BDO Consulting Group at BDO Ziv Haft Israel

Kroch concludes that the report proves it is possible and necessary to increase substantially the volume of food rescue in Israel. Currently, Leket Israel aims to increase the volume of food rescue at least 300% by 2020. Reaching this ambitious a goal requires support from policymakers in Israel and a number of measures which will not cost the country a single shekel. Some of the steps involve legislation:

 • Setting a National target for food rescue, which will determine a reduction of 50% in food loss by 2030, according to the principles formulated by the United Nations and adopted by the US government and European countries in September 2015.

• Completion of the legislation encouraging saving surplus food similar to the Good Samaritan Law in the United States.

• Imposing a food rescue requirement on government agencies and funded bodies. Requiring organizations funded by the state to enter into contractual agreements with recognized food rescue organizations (including security agencies, army, government corporations, etc.).

 Leket Israel-The National Food Bank is the leading food rescue non-profit organization that rescues fresh, perishable food, which would otherwise be considered waste, from farms, hotels, military bases and catering halls in an effort to aid the quarter of the country’s population that lives below the poverty line. The organization works with 190 non-profits throughout the country to distribute nutritious food to over 140,000+ Israelis weekly. Last year alone, Leket collected over 25 million pounds of food for the needy. For more information, please visit http://www.leket.org.

‪ Link to the English executive summary: http://leket.org/english/text/1523.aspx‬.

 

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