Israel: wasted food cost $6.2bn last year, reveals NGO

Nearly 37 percent of Israel’s food production, worth about NIS 21.3 billion ($6.2bn), ended up going to waste last year, the country’s largest anti-poverty NGO has revealed. Leket provides various welfare and food aid services to Israelis.

According to the NGO, more than half of the 2.6 million tons of wasted food was salvageable and fit for human consumption. Moreover, the report published in partnership with the Environmental Protection Ministry pointed out that compared with other 18 developed countries, Israel was the worst in enacting food waste solutions, having implemented the fewest policy tools to eradicate food waste.

“Israel ranking lowest among countries with food rescue policies requires the new government, as part of the fight against the rising cost of living, to adopt a comprehensive food rescue policy,” said Chen Herzog, the editor of the report. “Rescuing just 20 percent of the food currently going to waste will close the entire food insecurity gap in Israel and cost only NIS 1.1 billion ($314 million).”

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg noted that the report was published as world leaders gathered for the COP27 climate conference taking place in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh. “Food rescue and minimizing food waste are necessary actions that need to be taken to preserve Israel’s environmental, social and economic resilience,” she said. “It is crucial that the State of Israel bridges gaps to align with other OECD countries addressing the issue of food waste and rescue.”

Leket CEO Gidi Kroch said that he was not surprised by the results. He was critical of the fact that previous warnings by the NGO had been “thrown away each year.” Indeed, the report comes after Leket revealed last year that 25 percent of Israeli families with children experienced food insecurity. The study also found that 633,000 families in Israel don’t have enough resources to fulfill their daily dietary needs.

“The greatest advantage of food rescue is the ability not only to close the entire food insecurity gap in Israel with a quarter of the cost but also ensure greater utilization of natural resources and waste prevention,” explained Kroch. “Additionally, food rescue helps reduce gas emissions and pollutants and strengthens the fight against the global climate crisis.”

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