165 Million Pounds

of food could be rescued each year, worth $340 million

Nearly 1/3 of waste from institutional consumption is rescuable

Food Waste and Rescue in Institutional Consumption

Approximately 20% of the food consumed in Israel is served in institutional catering operations: meals served in factories, workplaces, security forces (Israel Defense Forces [IDF] bases, police stations, prisons), hotels, catering halls, restaurants, schools, hospitals, etc. (10) This sector, in which many meals are gathered together in one location, has the greatest potential for food rescue.

10. In the model, each of these categories is weighted according to the characteristics of the meals it serves.

According to BDO estimates, on an average day in 2018 approximately 2 million people ate one meal outside of the home, equivalent to 670 million meals annually. Approximately 1.7 billion pounds of food is used to prepare these meals.

The value of food used in meals eaten by consumers outside of their homes is estimated to be $3.8 billion annually, equivalent to approximately 17% of the total expenditure on food in Israel, and approximately 11% of the food consumed in quantitative terms.

The total food wasted in the institutional sector amounts to 507 million pounds annually, representing 30% of institutional food consumption, at a cost of approximately $1.0 billion annually.

Approximately one-third of institutional meals wasted are rescuable, meaning that it would be possible to save approximately 167 million pounds of food annually, with a total value of approximately $340 million each year, equivalent to approximately 68 million meals.

Food waste in institutional kitchens is an inevitable part of the economic planning of meals for a large number of patrons in congregant settings, while guaranteeing that the supply and variety meet the requirements of many diverse patrons, and taking into account the inherent elements of uncertainty as well.

In situations where the consumer pays only for what is eaten, the amount of waste will be lower than it is in restaurants that charge an all-inclusive price.

In recent years, most institutional kitchens are being operated by external companies with a high level of expertise in the field. Those companies strive for maximal economic efficiency and reduction of waste. Despite this, catering cannot be planned on the basis of averages alone. Rather, it is necessary to provide appropriate supplies of food even for non-average days. Therefore, food preparation must allow for sufficient margins to accommodate the risk of variance, rather than relying solely on statistical averages.

The analysis in the report shows that, as a general rule, a kitchen characterized by a higher level of uncertainty regarding the number of patrons can be expected to produce a higher level of waste. For example, at open IDF bases and workplaces, where there are accessible alternatives, the food waste will be higher than in schools and prisons, where there is less uncertainty about the number of meals to be served.

In addition, the more varied the menu, the greater the amount of waste that can be expected due to the uncertainty regarding which choices patrons will prefer. Accordingly, a higher level of waste can be expected at events and in hotels, where a wide variety of choices is offered, rather than workplaces, IDF bases and police stations.

The style of service and payment can also influence the amount of waste. In restaurants, for example, where food is prepared only after it is ordered, less waste is expected than at a buffet where food must be prepared in advance. In situations where the consumer pays only for what is eaten, the amount of waste will be lower than it is in restaurants that charge an all-inclusive price.

The table above presents a summary, in quantitative terms, of the estimated food waste in institutional sector.

11. This figure is based on the number of workdays relevant to each category. The estimate also distinguishes between different populations within each category.

The total amount of food that can be rescued from the institutional sector is valued at approximately $340 million. Approximately half of this amount is from events, from which it is likely possible to rescue approximately 49 million pounds of food, with a monetary value of $149 million, annually. Hotels, Security Forces and workplaces are other important focal points for food rescue, and it is probable that food worth $39-$52 million can be rescued annually from each of these sources. The value of rescuable food from restaurants is similar; approximately $34 million, but the broader geographical distribution and the lack of a critical mass in any single location generally reduces the economic feasibility of rescuing food from restaurants.

 The high return on investment for food rescue in the institutional sector is a consequence of the relatively high value of the rescued product, combined with the relatively low logistical costs of collecting food from large kitchens with dense geographic distribution, concentrated in city centers and industrial areas.