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

Uniqueness of Israeli Food Production and Consumption

The household expenditure on food consumption in Israel stands at about 17% of the average household’s consumption basket and about 20% of the consumption basket of households in the lower two deciles of the population. Food is much more than an essential component of a household’s consumption basket. Food consumption is a basic existential 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 food’s market value, which represents its production cost through all stages of the value chain.
Expenditures for food consumption represent approximately 17% of the average Israeli household’s ‎consumption basket, and approximately 20% of the consumption basket of households in the lowest two deciles of the population.

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 2021 report issued by the National Insurance Institute found that 18.7% of Israeli households suffer from food insecurity, which is equivalent to approximately five hundred thousand households who suffer 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.

1. OECD, Poverty rate, 2019. ‎
2. National Insurance Institute, “Measures of poverty and social gaps: 2018,” Annual report.
The problem of food insecurity, which routinely exists in Israel, has become worse due to the Covid-19 crisis and its economic effects as a result of the following factors:
Household incomes were harmed as people lost their jobs, were forced to go on unpaid leave, and many self-employed professionals were forced to shut down their business activity.
Supplementary frameworks in the educational system providing meals for school and kindergarten age children were forced to shut down, requiring households to increase their expenditure on food for their children.
Due to the ban on gatherings, soup kitchens were closed, making food less accessible to those suffering from food insecurity.
These trends were partially offset by the increased financial support and Covid-19 grants from the government.
1. OECD, Poverty rate, 2019. ‎
2. National Insurance Institute, “Measures of poverty and social gaps: 2018,” Annual report.
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.
3.‏ 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, fruit, legumes, dairy products, eggs, meat, fish, oils etc. 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 five previous reports. This year’s report also includes an expanded section on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on food waste and rescue.

People follow the social distancing rules while wait outside a supermarket, Israel. Photo: RnDmS