About the Report
According to estimates presented in the report, the total amount of food waste in Israel in 2020 stands at about 2.5 million tons and is valued at about NIS 19.1 billion. The total amount of waste constitutes about 35% of the food produced in Israel. Of this, about 1.1 million tons of food, valued at around NIS 6.4 billion, is rescuable, that is, fit for consumption.
The climate crisis and the Israeli government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions highlight the need to reduce food waste and use food rescue as a policy tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well. The prevention of food waste and promotion of food rescue are important economic and environmental tools for implementing the decision the government made in July 2021, to reduce the amount of landfilled waste by 71% by 2030. According to the report’s findings, 1.8 million tons of food and packaging waste were thrown away in the past year, and the environmental damage caused by food waste is estimated at NIS 3.4 billion.
The current report examines the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on food waste in Israel. The Covid-19 crisis did not result in a significant change in the total amount of food wasted in the economy. Rather, it shifted the distribution of waste among the various sectors. The change in consumption patterns led to an increase of NIS 800 million in food waste in the household sector and an increase in the amount of food waste in agriculture (mainly during the first lockdown). On the other hand, there was a NIS 2.2 billion decrease in food waste in the institutional consumption sector (hotels, workplaces, etc.), constituting about a 50% reduction in food waste in this sector compared to 2019.
The economic and social crisis that followed the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem of food insecurity in Israel. On the one hand, earning capacity was diminished and workers were let go from employment. On the other hand, traditional systems for ensuring food security were impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions. In light of this, the crisis emphasizes the importance of using food rescue as a central policy tool for addressing the problem.
The report, based on BDO’s economic model for the food industry, includes comprehensive and detailed research regarding the scope of the various types of food waste in Israel. It reveals the potential for food rescue in each of the stages of the food production value chain as well as the environmental cost of food waste at each stage.
The report’s findings indicate that food rescue is highly viable from an economic, social, and environmental perspective. Every shekel invested in food rescue makes it possible to rescue food with a direct value of NIS 3.6. When taking into account the environmental impact of food waste, every shekel invested in food rescue creates NIS 4.2 in value for the national economy.
The problem of food waste is not unique to Israel. The scope of waste in Israel is similar to that in other developed countries. Many other countries have enacted legislation, national policies, and multi-year targets to encourage food rescue and reduce food waste. In Israel, the Food Donation Act was passed in October 2018 and constitutes an important initial component towards the formulation of a comprehensive national food rescue plan.
It is our hope that this report will serve as a basis for public discussion regarding the problem of food waste and assist in the formulation of national policy steps that will lead to a real change in food waste and rescue patterns in Israel, both in routine times and in times of emergency.