of lost food is rescuable and can be used to feed underprivileged populations experiencing food insecurity
The Value Of Rescuable Food Is Approximately $2 Billion
Food Waste – How Much Food Can be Rescued?
Approximately 35% of food produced in Israel is lost or wasted during the production, distribution and consumption stages, totaling approximately 5.5 billion pounds annually. This translates to food waste valued at $5.5 billion, equivalent to 1.5% of the GNP. About half of this waste is considered unfit for human consumption and is therefore not considered potentially rescuable.
In terms of food rescue, the most important component is edible foods (fit for consumption with nutritional and health benefits) that do not reach the consumer. There are various reasons for loss in each of the stages of the food value chain. The common denominator is lack of economic viability for food producers (i.e. farmers, manufacturers, distributors, etc.) to invest additional resources in the more advanced stages of production and distribution.
Reducing food waste, either by prevention or by rescuing surplus, is a primary public objective and a top priority on the international agenda. The estimated amount of food fit for rescue is derived from the value chain model designed specifically for the food industry. Every type of food and its loss, at each stage of the value chain, was analyzed and classified as rescuable or un-rescuable (unfit for consumption).
It is important to note that classification of rescuable foods does not address economic viability of rescue, but rather the feasibility of using wasted food to feed people.
The value of rescuable food is approximately $2 billion, with the value of the loss increasing at each stage along the length of the value chain, as more resources have been invested in raising, producing, packaging and transporting the food that is then wasted. Most of the value of food waste is concentrated in the retail and distribution sector, because the food lost during these stages is ready for marketing and consumption, meaning that it is being discarded before reaching the final consumer.
According to our estimate, roughly 50% of food waste is rescuable and can, given economic viability and appropriate resources, be used to feed needy populations suffering from food insecurity.
Food waste during household consumption was not classified as rescuable. There are various approaches to the issue of food waste in household consumption. Western culture is based on a notion of consumerism and prosperity, in which consumers extract benefit and enjoyment, not only from food consumption, but also from having a range of selections and even excess. Economically, as long as consumers pay the full amount for purchased products, there is no justification for restricting consumption. The problem is that food production entails the use of natural resources and has an environmental impact, and these external costs are not calculated in the price paid by consumers for food. We did not examine these aspects, however, these circumstances might justify actions to encourage food recovery – perhaps with governmental sponsored public relations campaigns, as has been done in several western countries—to raise public awareness regarding the external impact of producing food that is left unconsumed.