NIS 9 billion

NIS 3,600 worth of food is wasted annually by households in Israel
NIS 3,600 worth of food is wasted annually by households in Israel

Food Waste in the Household Consumption Sector

In 2020, following the Covid-19 crisis and the imposed lockdowns, household members stayed at home for longer periods of time. This led to changes in food consumption patterns, so that households now consumed a more substantial share of their food basket at home rather that at restaurants, workplaces, events, etc. Due to this increase in at-home consumption, the average household wasted about another NIS 300 in 2020 compared to 2019.

In 2020, household food consumption increased by about 9% compared to 2019 20. Accordingly, household food waste in Israel amounted to approximately 990 thousand tons (21), valued at about NIS 9 billion. Beyond this direct cost, the environmental cost due to food waste in the household consumption sector stands at about NIS 1 billion (22).

20. BDO’s analyses of Stornext and data from the supermarket chains.
21. Based on the food value chain model developed by BDO, using weighted data from the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2019, a national survey of the composition of household garbage conducted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection for 2012-13, the findings of a Geocartography survey conducted in January 2019, and a study on household garbage in Israel conducted by Dr. Ofira Ayalon and Efrat Elimelech, “What gets measured gets managed: A new method of measuring household food waste.” Waste Management, 76 (2018): 68–81.
22. The environmental cost not included in the market price of the wasted food, i.e. the natural resources wasted due to food waste in this sector.

Household Food Waste, NIS per month

The average household in Israel wastes about 13% of its food expenditure, meaning the average family in Israel in 2020 wasted food valued at about NIS 3,600, or the equivalent of the food consumed in a month and a half. On a monthly basis, the average household’s financial loss due to food waste was NIS 300, with NIS 137 resulting from wasted fruit and vegetables, NIS 93 from wasted grains and legumes, NIS 47 from wasted meat, fish, and eggs, and NIS 23 from wasted milk and dairy products.

The main causes of household food waste: preparing too much food and food expiration

Household food waste is caused by the combination of consumer habits, the culture of abundance, and the way the food is stored and kept fresh at home. Household food waste in 2020 was approximately NIS 9 billion annually.
The main causes of household food waste are (23):

1. Preparing Too Much Food
Preparing more than is needed, generally food that was cooked or prepared unnecessarily and was not consumed, often due to overbuying.

2. Expired Food
Food that expires before being fully consumed. It should be noted that expired food is connected to overbuying. The desire to have a variety of available food options, combined with the uncertainty surrounding the amount of food that will actually be consumed by the household members, creates a situation in which some of the food that was bought expires before it is consumed.

3. Overbuying
Buying more food than is consumed, thereby increasing food waste. Staying home for long periods of time due to the Covid-19 crisis and the uncertainty surrounding the situation led to an increase in household food consumption.

23. Based on findings of the Geocartography survey conducted in March 2021 by Leket Israel and BDO.

Other causes of food waste in household consumption include damaged or spilled food and food that was not prepared or cooked properly.

Household food waste is not unique to Israel, and waste rates in Israel are comparable to those in other developed countries. In Israel, as in other western countries, the highest waste rate is in the fruit and vegetables category, with 23% of the fruit and vegetables bought in Israel going to waste, compared to 28% in the United States and 19% in Europe. The relatively high waste rate for fruit and vegetables primarily stems from their short shelf life and the fact that households do not take measures to ensure optimal storage conditions.

Households Annually Discard

In regards to meat, fish, and dairy products, the waste rate is lower and stands at approximately 8%. The lower waste rate for these products stems, among other things, for the fact that it is possible to extend their shelf life by freezing them, and because these products are more expensive per unit of weight, which creates an incentive for households not to waste them as much. The waste rate for these products is similar to that in Europe, and lower than that in the United States.

In the grains and legumes category, the waste rate is approximately 14%. This waste rate is the result of combining waste rates of products with a short shelf life such as bread and baked goods, and products with a relatively long shelf life, such as raw grains and legumes.

International Comparison: Rate of Household Food Waste

NIS 6,815

the overall impact of food waste on cost of living in the household annually

In Israel, where household food expenditure is relatively high by international standards (24), food waste is one of the factors that contributes to high cost of living. Food waste effects the cost of living due to overspending on food and by driving the cost of food up. The overall impact on cost of living is an additional NIS 6,815 per household annually.

24. Global Food Security Index, The Economist, 2018

Rate of Household Food Waste for Selected Products

Source: BDO estimates

Cost of living – Overspending: Food bought and thrown away as waste constitutes a direct household cost. On average, the direct monthly loss [excluding external costs (25)] due to food waste stands at NIS 300 per household, and accordingly, the annual loss stands at NIS 3,600 per household. The costs of collecting and disposing the waste in a landfill are ultimately passed onto consumers in the form of increased municipal property taxes and fees, leading to an additional annual cost of NIS 200 per household.

25.External costs not included: the cost of clearing and burying the food waste, the cost of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, and the increase in wholesale prices due to food waste in agriculture and industry.23. IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report

Cost of living – Higher Food Prices: As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, production and sales costs increased, mainly in the fruit and vegetable category, due to a rise in transportation costs and a decrease in harvesting efficiency and packaging due to social distancing requirements and a shortage of workers. The effect of the crisis was expressed in a rise of about 4.4% in fruit and vegetable prices in 2020. On the other hand, food prices excluding fruit and vegetables went down by about 0.6%, and food prices in total remained virtually unchanged, with an increase of 0.3% compared to 2019. In addition to a household’s direct surplus expenditure on food that was bought but not consumed, cost of living is affected by food waste throughout all stages of the value chain prior to household consumption. In economic terms, the cost of food reflects the total cost of production and sales at all stages of the value chain: growing, production, packaging, transport, and sales. Therefore, the price of food in supermarkets incorporates the value of food waste in the retail sector. Similarly, wholesale food prices reflect food waste in the agricultural and industrial sectors. Ultimately, the cost of waste at all stages of the value chain is passed on to the consumer, leading to an additional annual cost of NIS 2,800 due to an 11% increase in food prices.

Cost of living – Environmental impact of GHG and air pollutant emissions: The environmental impact caused by food waste has an indirect effect on the cost of living. Air pollutant emissions negatively affect human health and the environment, a cost the economy bears as a whole, mainly in the form of health expenditures. External costs resulting from these negative environmental influences, which reflect the monetary value of societal wellbeing lost due to pollutant emission (26), were calculated and estimated at around NIS 1.3 billion for the Israeli economy in 2020, about NIS 215 per household.

26.The Green Book: Estimating and measuring environmental costs, The Ministry of Environmental Protection, 2020.

Household Food Waste in Israel Per Year

Food Waste: Impact on the Cost of Living

Beyond the direct impact on the cost of living, other external costs are incurred due to food waste, its transport, and landfill disposal, stemming from the indirect impact of waste transportation, fuel combustion, and the environmental damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions measured in this report. Likewise, there are other effects, such as road congestion and soil contamination, which are not included in the estimated environmental cost presented in this report.

When organic waste is buried in landfills, it decomposes and emits methane, which is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential (GWP) 84 times greater in the short term (20 years) and 28 times greater in the long term (100 years) than that of carbon dioxide (27).

27. IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report
According to findings of the 2020 National Food Waste Report, 990 thousand tons of household food waste were transported to landfills, requiring sanitation trucks to make about another 315 thousand trips throughout the year and thereby increasing air pollution, road congestion, noise, and the risk of accidents. Therefore, beyond the NIS 9 billion in household food waste and the NIS 0.6 billion it cost to dispose of it, the economy incurred additional external costs due to the effects of traffic congestion and the resulting impact on the environment.

Lessons from Around the World – Measures to Reduce Household Food Waste

In recent years, various countries have been making efforts to reduce household food waste on several levels. These include increasing consumer awareness of food waste, educating consumers on how to prevent food waste, using technology to reduce waste, and more (for more on food waste reduction activities during the Covid-19 crisis, see Chapter 12). Following are a number of selected cases from around the world demonstrating the efforts made to reduce household food waste:

The German Ministry of Agriculture set up the “Too Good for the Bin” website with the aim of encouraging consumers to reduce household food waste. When the Covid-19 crisis erupted, the Ministry announced that there was no fear of food shortages in Germany so as not to alarm the public. Simultaneously, it ran a campaign online and on social media titled “Just Buy What You Need,” which featured German celebrities. The Ministry also suggested ways of reducing household food waste by using shopping lists and storing food properly at home.

In 2013, the British Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) launched the “Love Food Hate Waste” campaign to raise awareness regarding the importance of reducing food waste and to help people take action on the issue. The project included digital publications and community events such as cooking classes. As part of the project, a dedicated website was created offering information on how to reduce food waste. Topics included, for example, calibrating refrigerators to optimal temperatures, the importance of preparing a shopping list, etc.

The WRAP examined the effects of its campaign in west London over a six-month period, from October 2012 to March 2013. At the end of the period, the quantity of food waste dropped by 14%, from 2.6 kg per household in the week prior to the campaign, to 2.2 kg per household in the week following the campaign. A cost-benefit analysis revealed that every ₤1.00 invested in the campaign resulted in an ₤8.00 reduction in food waste.

In Israel, the Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce Department at the Volcani Center published guidelines for consumers on how to preserve fruit and vegetables at home (28).

28. Preservation of fruits and vegetables in the consumer’s home | the Ministry of Agriculture and rural development. ( 🔗Link )

Technology provides another means towards reducing food waste. In the Netherlands, a study was conducted on the optimal temperatures for extending the shelf life of various food products. By changing the storage temperatures, the researchers were able to extend the products’ shelf life significantly.

A third way to reduce household waste is through taxation. Many countries use the “Pay as You Throw” method. These include the United States and Canada (29), Austria, Germany, Spain, Japan and others. In this system, households pay the municipality or waste collection agency based on the amount of their unsorted waste. This method encourages households to recycle and reduce food waste, which constitutes a significant share of household waste.

Posters from the Love Food – Hate Waste project campaign. Photo: WRAP