NIS 5 billion
Potential Savings to the National Economy
According to BDO and Leket Israel estimates, the current rescue multiplier is 3.6, and when taking into account greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions as well as waste treatment costs, the rescue multiplier rises to 4.3.
This means that every shekel spent on food rescue saves food worth NIS 3.6 or NIS 4.3, respectively. Based on these calculations, it would cost only NIS 0.9 billion to rescue food worth NIS 3.3 billion (33). Food worth NIS 3.3 billion equals the value of the entire food expenditure gap that exists between the population living with food insecurity and the normative consumption level.
Without food rescue, an annual cost of NIS 3.3 billion in financial aid would be required to close this gap completely. Hence, food rescue is clearly preferable to the alternatives of government allowances, donations, subsidies, or financial aid for the needy as a means of bridging the food insecurity gap. Food rescue makes it possible to reach the same social goal at a significantly lower cost of NIS 0.9 billion annually. In other words, food rescue bridges the food insecurity gap while cutting costs by 73% and providing significant social and environmental benefits.
The problem of food insecurity is not only expressed in the amount of money spent on food, but also in the types of food consumed. An analysis of the average consumption of those who are food insecure compared to the average consumption of the food-secure population reveals that food insecurity often goes along with spending little on fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish, which have high nutritional value.
Food Rescue: Summary of Estimated Savings to the National Economy (NIS millions/year)
Thus, for example, the gap in expenditure for highly nutritious food such as meat, poultry, fish, and fresh fruit and vegetables ranges from 55% to 70% of the normative expenditure, while the gap for other products, such as potatoes, bread, and pitta, is lower, and ranges from 15% to 25%.
According to the principles of economic theory, income in the form of goods is less preferable than income in the form of money, because it deprives the recipient of the freedom to allocate resources according to their full range of needs. Therefore, in principle, the general tendency is to prefer monetary support over the direct provision of products. This economic principle is also known as “subsidize people, not products.” However, in the case of food rescue, the unique set of circumstances presents a clear economic advantage to supporting the needy with products over money. This stems from the specific characteristics involved in transforming waste into food, i.e. that every shekel invested in food rescue generates a direct economic return of 3.6. Moreover, taking into consideration the environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants, and waste treatment, the return on investment for the economy rises to 4.3.
In this context, it should be noted that those suffering from food insecurity also suffer from financial insecurity expressed in consumption gaps for other basic necessities (housing, health, education, etc.). It is likely that food rescue would enable these households to effectively allocate some of their increased disposable income towards the consumption of other goods. From a social perspective, these households view the consumption of such products as prerequisites for ensuring their financial security. Therefore, beyond the direct value of the rescued food distributed to them, they also benefit from having more resources available for purchasing other goods and services.
Impact of Food Insecurity on the Food Expenditure Patterns of Households Experiencing Severe Food Insecurity 100% = Diet of population with normative food expenditures
In September 2015, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (34), the United Nations and the United States government adopted the national goal of reducing food waste by 50% within fifteen years. Analysis of the data in this report shows that achieving even less than half of that goal, and donating the rescued food to approximately 450 thousand households suffering from food insecurity in Israel, would fully close the gap between their food intake and the normative level. In terms of the national economy, this would mean annual savings of about NIS 2.5 billion, bridging the gap between the value of the rescued food and the cost of rescuing it. This is before taking into account the added benefits resulting from the reduction of poverty and inequality in the economy and before factoring in the external benefits to the environment.
It should be emphasized that the incremental implementation of the 50% national food waste reduction goal over a fifteen-year period is not expected to reduce the volume of agricultural production in Israel intended for local consumption, but only to slow down the growth rate of local food production.