Israel’s national food bank has slammed the country for annually wasting 1.3 million tonnes of edible food fit for redistribution, while 2 million Israelis live below the poverty line.
A first-of-its-kind report for Leket Israel, published last week, revealed that food worth NIS 8 billion (£1.4 billion), equal to 1.6 percent of Israel’s gross domestic product (GDP), is wasted annually. The food required to end food insecurity in Israel, by contrast, would cost NIS 3 billion – less than half the amount wasted.
“While these two million citizens do not know where their next meal will come from, the country is literally throwing away edible food-valued at NIS 8 billion,” said Leket chief executive Gidi Kroch.
“The figures are shocking and prove that the resounding solution to global issues such as hunger, poverty and waste lie in food redistribution programmes implemented on a governmental scale.”
The report, called ‘Food Waste and Rescue in Israel: The Economic, Social and Environmental Impact,’ was compiled by consulting group BDO Ziv Haft. It looked at the loss of produce throughout the food chain, from agriculture to packaging, distribution and retail. Three quarters of the loss went on fruit and vegetables.
Activists say the cost of food rescue is 75 percent lower than the cost of providing support, subsidies or allowances to the poor, meaning that the country’s politicians had a financial reasons to solve the problem.
“This must serve as motivation to adopt initiatives on a national scale,” said Kroch. “Even modest gains cutting waste will dramatically improve societal conditions, and do so at a relatively low cost.”
Chen Herzog, chief economist of BDO Ziv Haft, said: “The benefits of food rescue to the economy are significantly larger than the market price of the food saved.”