The Time is Ripe to Adopt International Best Practices and an Orderly Government Policy for Reducing Food Loss and Encouraging Food Rescue in Israel

Economic advantage

Environmental advantage

Health advantage

Social advantage

Policy Recommendations to Encourage Food Rescue and Reduce Food Waste

The National Food Waste and Rescue Report 2022, like previous Reports, indicated that food rescue is highly worthwhile, in terms of economic, health, social, and environmental considerations. A comparative review of policies and best practices used around the world for reducing food waste, and information about the health benefits of rescuing nutritious food, underscore the need for food rescue to be a national policy tool.

Economic: This is a clear case of market failure. Rescuing food at market value is not economically viable. However, if food’s economic value reflects its alternative value and nutritional value, then food rescue becomes economically worthwhile.

Social: Donating rescued food to people in need can reduce inequality and increase food security among Israel’s population.

Health: Rescuing nutritious food and distributing it to people who lack sufficient food or are experiencing food insecurity can provide them with adequate nutrition. This directly benefits this population’s health and reduces healthcare expenses for the national economy.

Other advantages of food rescue were not reviewed in this Report. However, it is notable that the current concern with food in general, and healthy and sustainable food in particular, should be seen in the broad context of food security and the need to provide food for everyone. Population growth and the political, environmental, and health crises that plague the world are having a direct impact on food reserves. It is not possible to simply stand by in the face of this situation. Therefore, the following policy tools are recommended for consideration, to encourage food rescue and reduce food waste in Israel. These tools are widely used in many Western countries.

The Recommended Policy Tools

Establish a national goal to rescue food and reduce waste

The established target should be a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030, in accordance with the principles formulated by the United Nations.

Setting a national goal puts the issue on the public agenda and creates an obligation to take steps to achieve it.

In addition to setting a goal, it is necessary to create measurement and monitoring tools to regularly assess compliance toward meeting the target.

Formulate a national plan for food rescue and reducing food waste

The plan for food rescue and reducing food waste should emphasize healthy and nutritious food. The plan should cover the entire value chain, and all the relevant conditions (operational, regulatory, economic), so that the goal of reducing food waste and rescuing food can gradually be achieved. The plan should be submitted to the government, for approval and budgeting.

Because this broad issue pertains to multiple government ministries, the plan will be compiled by an inter-ministerial team. The Ministry of Environmental Protection expressed a willingness to lead and coordinate the team’s work. The proposals are as follows:

The Ministry of Environmental Protection will promote, among other things, policies to reduce food waste and to rescue food as a means toward meeting emission-reduction goals in waste treatment and industry. Such policy tools may include fees for excess waste, a ban on landfilling organic waste that has not been stabilized, an economic mechanism for carbon pricing, etc.

The Ministry of Health will outline a policy promoting a healthy diet among the general population, and among disadvantaged populations in particular. It will formulate a policy that will remove barriers facing nonprofit organizations and food banks whose work focuses on food rescue and donating fresh and healthy food. The Ministry will assess various tools and programs to promote public awareness of healthy dietary practices and their consequences.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will make efforts to improve the planning and coordination of agricultural production. It will formulate a policy offering incentives and assistance to farmers who donate surplus food products rather than disposing of them. They will examine policy tools and technologies for transforming food designated for disposal into a resource.

The Ministry of Economy and Industry will formulate a policy offering incentives and aid to food producers who donate edible, nutritious food rather than disposing of it. They will examine ways to implement dynamic pricing practices in marketing networks that will help reduce waste as a result of food products approaching their expiration dates. The Ministry will explore the possibility of a new expiration date system.

The Ministry of Welfare and Social Security will support activities and initiatives to reduce food waste and to rescue healthy food for distribution to disadvantaged populations. Supportive measures will focus on distributing healthy food and recognizing rescue as a food source. This will be combined with nutritional education programs, counseling, and guidance targeting disadvantaged populations. This will allow the Ministry to expand the scope of their support to these populations, without allocating additional budgets for this.

The Ministry of Education (in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Health) will make a plan to implement curriculum, beginning in early childhood, that encourage healthy and sustainable nutrition, preventing food waste, and food rescue. Environmental and sustainability studies will emphasize saving resources, including food, and advocating food rescue.

Government Procurement Manager will implement a threshold condition for private entities that participate in government tenders to provide any services to the state (not only in the food sector), that should there be rescuable sources of food, such entities must contract with a recognized food rescue association. In cooperation with the Government Companies Authority, state-funded entities that manage (directly or through a subcontractor) kitchen facilities that feed over 1,000 people a day will also be required to contract with recognized food rescue organizations as a precondition for receiving a budget from the government. This includes security services, school cafeterias, companies, etc.

The Ministry of Defense and the National Emergency Management Authority will budget for food rescue and food security within its economic assessments for emergencies and crises.