Study Shows: Since the Coronavirus Outbreak, Israelis Spent More Money on Food

YERUSHALAYIM -
People wear protective face masks as they shop at the Carmel market in Tel Aviv, May 8. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Leket Israel, Israel’s leading food rescue organization, commissioned “Geocartography” a special study to examine the effect of the quarantine and the emergency guidelines on food waste among the Israeli public.

The survey, conducted in May among 500 people representative of the Israeli population, estimates that 61% of the respondents threw away up to 15% of the food they bought during the quarantine period. Over half of Israelis, approximately 55%, believe that during the quarantine period, weekly, they discarded some NIS 300 worth of food.

The study shows that the main reason for food waste in Israel during the coronavirus crisis stems from excess food preparation. A reasonable assumption is that this occurred resulting from the move to eating only at home for a prolonged period of time.

The second major reason as to why large quantities of food went to waste is that it expired before being used. Although 20.2% of the survey respondents representing about a fifth of the population said that they made sure to check expiration dates since the start of the crisis, 57% of the Israelis threw away food during the emergency guidelines period because it had expired.

The study also revealed that during the closure period, 45% of Israelis threw out unconsumed food because it was damaged or spilled, and 37.6% of the population threw it away as it was spoiled during cooking. Additionally, 31.8% of Israelis threw food away due to over-buying.

Regarding consumer spending, 69.4% of the public believe that their spending on food has increased since the beginning of the crisis. 69% estimate that their expenditure on food during the emergency guidelines period was estimated at NIS 300-900 per week, and 23.2% estimate that their expenditure on food was above NIS 1,000 per week. 35% of Israelis estimated that they spent NIS 100-200 more on fruit and vegetables per week, 30.4% believe they spent between NIS 50-100 per week on fruit and vegetables and 14.9% believe this expense has increased by NIS 50 per week.

The study found that during the quarantine period 46% of the public spent up to NIS 500 per week on food and 54% spent an amount ranging from NIS 500-1500 and above. Those with an average and above-average income are the ones who most significantly increased their weekly food expenditure. Among those who earn a below average salary, 56% bought at an expense of up to NIS 500 per week and 44% bought at expenses exceeding NIS 500 per week. Among those who earn an average market salary, 38% bought at up to NIS 500 per week and 64% at an amount greater than NIS 500.

Of the food products purchased, during the emergency guidelines period, Israelis bought more fruit and vegetables and dairy products: 55% of respondents reported that they bought more fruit and vegetables. 55% of the population spent over NIS 500 per week on fruit and vegetables during the crisis, as opposed to 45% who spent less than NIS 500 per week, the more avid consumers of fruit and vegetables are adults. 69% of the population over the age of 55 buys fruit and vegetables at an expense exceeding NIS 500 per week, while this is true to 59% of the population aged 35-54 and only 46% of the population aged 18-34.

Additionally, 56% reported an increase in the purchase of dairy products. 43.8% reported an increase in the purchase of bread and baked goods, 43% reported an increase in the purchase of poultry, 36% reported an increase in the purchase of pasta, 32% reported an increase in the purchase of rice, 31.4% reported an increase in the purchase of cakes and sweets, 31% reported an increase in the purchase of oil, 25.8% reported an increase in the purchase of salty snacks, 22.8% reported an increase in the purchase of coffee and tea, 21.8% reported an increase in the purchase of soft drinks and juices, 17.8% reported an increase in the purchase of legumes, 17% reported an increase in the purchase of fish, 17.4% reported an increase in the purchase of frozen vegetables and 8.8% reported an increase in the purchase of alcoholic beverages and wine.

Leket Israel’s CEO, Gidi Kroch: “The findings of the study show that both the fear from the potential closure of supermarkets and the prolonged stay at home resulted in excess amounts of food being thrown away for a variety of reasons. Food waste has implications for both individuals financially and the economy as a whole as it causes economic, environmental and social damage. The cost of food waste, throughout the entire chain-marketing, distribution and consumption, eventually ends up affecting the consumers’ own pockets and impacts the cost of living in Israel. Therefore, reducing food waste through food rescue has an important economic value, reduces economic inequality and the cost of living and improves the productivity and competitiveness of the food industry in Israel.”