billion pounds of food can be rescued

From an economic perspective food rescue should be considered a viable alternative to additional food production

Food Rescue = Alternative to Food Production

During the growth, production, distribution and marketing of food in Israel, approximately 35% of domestically produced food is lost, becoming waste or surplus. Food rescue is an economic act of transforming this surplus food, that would otherwise have zero or negative value, into food that is distributed to the underprivileged population for consumption.

Economically speaking, food rescue should be viewed as a viable alternative to excess food production. However, in contrast to the usual food production processes, the raw materials required for food rescue are surpluses that would otherwise be wasted.

Food rescue is a winning formula for producing food without significant reliance on natural resources, land or water pollution, and use of fertilizers or pesticides.

Consequently, food rescue produces food without utilizing the resources necessary during production, while also preventing the majority of the detrimental environmental impact attributed to the production process. Food rescue is a winning formula for producing food without significant reliance on natural resources, land or water pollution, and use of fertilizers or pesticides.

May be aesthetically flawed

Nearly 50% of wasted food is rescuable, equivalent to 2.6 billion pounds.

Currently, the majority of food rescue in Israel and abroad is carried out by nonprofit organizations (NPOs), supported by donations. However, even if funding for food rescue is derived from donations, such activity is not primarily philanthropic or charitable, but an alternative economic method of food production, one that is clearly beneficial to the national economy, above and beyond its contribution to reducing social inequality.

According to a study conducted in Australia, the multiplier for the value of rescued food relative to rescue costs is 5.7. In other words, every dollar invested in food rescue enables the recovery of surplus food worth $5.7. Moreover, food rescue generates additional environmental, social and health benefits.

Based on Leket Israel’s experience, the cost of food rescue is approximately $0.18 for every pound of food. The direct value of the food is $0.64 per pound, yielding a multiplier effect of 3.6. Therefore, each $1.0 invested by NPOs in food rescue provides $3.6 worth of food for the underprivileged population. Food rescue in Israel is still in its infancy, so there is enormous potential for expansion, utilizing economies of scale to reduce the cost of food rescue, and/or raise the value of rescued products, which would in time enable the multiplier to increase. However, for reasons of conservatism, we have based our assessments on the current cost structure.

In terms of benefit to the national economy, it is also necessary to consider the positive environmental and social contributions of food rescue. This report does not estimate these influences in the context of the Israeli economy. However, assuming that these environmental and social benefits are similar to the average costs around the world, the multiplier would increase to 7.2. A calculation that includes environmental benefits would show that every $1.0 invested in food rescue generates $7.2 to the national economy.

* Market price of alternative product with similar nutritional value. Source: BDO estimates