Israelis households suffer from food insecurity
In Israel, food consumption accounts for 17% of each household’s total expenditures

The Uniqueness of Israeli Food Production and Consumption

The household expenditure on food consumption in Israel stands at about 17% of the average household’s total expenditure and about 22% of the expenditure of households in the lower two deciles of the population. Food is much more than an essential component of a household’s consumption budget. Food consumption is a basic need, and balanced nutrition is essential for ensuring the health of the general population and in particular the development of babies and children. Therefore, a shortage of food or insufficient consumption of essential nutrients can cause potential health issues, at a cost that exceeds the market value of the food, which represents its production cost through all stages of the value chain.
Israel is characterized by a food expenditure rate that is among the highest in the developed world; at the same time, it has the highest poverty rate among OECD countries (1) . As a result, food insecurity in Israel is a particularly severe problem. BDO’s analysis of the report issued by the National Insurance Institute in December 2021 found that 16.2% of Israeli households suffer from food insecurity, which is equivalent to approximately 450 thousand households suffering from food insecurity in Israel (2) . From an economic perspective, this indicates that a food insecure household spends approximately 30% less on food than those who enjoy normative levels of consumption.
Food is a unique commodity, not only in terms of its consumption characteristics, but also in terms of its production properties. Growing and producing food requires the use of natural resources that are relatively scarce or that have substantial economic costs: energy, water, and land. Many of these are non-renewable resources (3) and their use also runs the risk of impacting water, land and air quality and harming biodiversity, along with greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change. Moreover, collecting and disposing of food surpluses in landfills carries additional environmental costs.
1. OECD, Poverty rate, 2020. ‎
2. National Insurance Institute, Measures of poverty, and income inequality, according to data from 2020 and an estimate for 2021.
2. Value Chain Management Centre, Cut Waste, Grow Profit: How to reduce and manage food waste, leading to increased profitability and environmental sustainability, Background paper, 2012.

In a small, arid country like Israel, water and land are valuable, limited resources. The need to use land and water resources to grow surplus agricultural produce that is later lost or wasted, incurs further environmental and social costs, beyond the direct economic cost.

The nutritional components found in food are derived almost entirely from agricultural products, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, dairy products, eggs, meat, fish and oils. At the same time, agricultural production has an inherently high level of uncertainty resulting from external factors such as pests, weather, diseases, and more.

This report examines the issue of food waste and the economic, social, and environmental viability of its rescue, based on quantifiable estimates and assessments. It includes updated data and methodological improvements based on experience accumulated during the preparation of the six previous reports. This year’s report also includes a special, expanded section presenting an international comparison of food waste and rescue policy, written in cooperation with the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) (4), and the Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) (5) who have launched the Global Food Donation Policy Atlas (6).

4.‏ The Food Policy and Law Clinic of Harvard Law School (FLPC)
5.‏ The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN)
Israeli meal, Credit: KPegg