Group: One Third of Food in Israel Goes to Waste

Buying tomatoes at the Machaneh Yehudah market in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israelis throw away 2.3 tons of food a year – about a third of all the food produced in Israel, and an amount valued at NIS 19.3 billion, according to a report by the Leket organization, which provides food packages for needy Israelis.

Nearly half the food that is thrown away is “unrecoverable,” including spoiled vegetables and meat, packaged products that are infested with insects or other pests, etc. Some 1.1 million tons of food, valued at NIS 7 billion, fall into that category. Of the rest, some 400,000 tons, valued at NIS 4.2 billion is lost at the wholesale or producer level, allowed to go past its expiration date unused and are required to be destroyed by the law. The biggest “losses” are in fruits and vegetables, with 13 percent of tomatoes that reach markets going to waste, and 11 percent of peppers becoming unusable. Bread and baked goods account for 10.6 percent of lost food.

According to the study, some 18 percent of Israelis are not confident that they will have enough food to feed themselves or their families. Israel is 18th out of 35 countries in an OECD study of “food confidence.” The country is 9th among the OECD countries for household food costs.

According to the report, Leket in 2017 “saved” 15.5 tons of fruits and vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste, along with 2.3 tons of prepared food (from restaurants and caterers), worth NIS 150 million. According to the report, “there needs to be a national plan that will require organizations, especially government organizations or those receiving government funding, to save food. Laws on the matter have been proposed, and the Knesset must see them through to final approval.”

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