ISRAEL - 2.5 Million Tons of Food Wasted in 2018

Arno Froese

Israelis threw away some 2.5 million tons of food last year, worth a total of NIS 19.7 billion ($5.5bn.) and constituting approximately 35% of all food production, according to an annual report published by Leket Israel and accounting firm BDO.

In the case of household consumption alone, 880,000 tons of food—valued at NIS 7bn. ($2.2bn)—was wasted last year, with the average Israeli family disposing of food worth NIS 3,200 ($890), equivalent to a month and a half of annual household food expenditure.

The majority of the wasted food was fruit and vegetables, with Israeli households wasting 23% of all food, compared to 28% in the United States and 19% in Europe.

The report further revealed that the extent of waste also has a significant impact on the already high cost of living in Israel. Food loss at all stages of the value chain increases food prices by 11% for consumers.

To close the food insecurity gap in Israel, said Gidi Kroch, CEO of Leket Israel, only one-fifth of wasted food—worth approximately NIS 3bn. ($835m.)—would need to be rescued. Doing so would only cost NIS 830m. ($230m.), less than one-third of the cost of the wasted food.  

“Policy for food rescue and redistributing it to disadvantaged sectors of the population is an effective economic plan in Israel, where a large part of household expenditure is on food,” said BDO chief economist Chen Herzog.

Aiming to encourage food rescue, Leket promotes a range of policy measures it considers necessary to implement to encourage food rescue.

This includes the development of a national plan for food rescue, setting a national food rescue goal, requiring the food rescue of all governmental and government-financed institutions, reevaluating expiry dates, and requiring food rescue as a condition for private businesses to participate in government tender processes.

In October 2018, Leket recorded a significant legislative victory when the Knesset passed the Food Donation Act, protecting food donors and food associations against potential criminal and civil claims based on damage caused by donated foodstuffs.

Last year, Leket said its team of volunteers rescued 2.2 million cooked meals from IDF army bases, hotel catering companies and restaurants last year. In addition, it saved 15,500 tons of agricultural produce worth NIS 150m. ($41.5m.).

The rescued food was then distributed to 175,000 individuals at risk through the non-profit's network of 200 agency partners across the country., 5 March 2019

Arno's commentary

There have been five major mass immigrations to Israel (Aliyah): the first one in 1882, with some 35,000 mainly Russians, followed by the second Aliyah of 40,000 mostly Russians in 1909. That was the year the first communist agricultural settlement (kibbutz) was established: Degania. These early years were extremely important; people can live without a government, without a police force, schools, religious institutions, etc., but they cannot exist without food. The backbone of modern Israel started with food production—in some cases, literally turning the desert into a blossoming garden. Some 2,500 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel wrote about this miracle: “And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited” (Ezekiel 36:34-35).

In the meantime, Israel has been extremely successful in developing their agricultural industry, and on many levels has become a world leader when it comes to high-tech agriculture.

Today, food is available in abundance, so that over one-third can be wasted and there is still much left over.

Waste, however, is another story; that is true in virtually all developed countries. There are hundreds if not thousands of organizations collecting food for those who are less fortunate and, in some cases, actually suffer from hunger. Here in the state of South Carolina, we are told that 10% of children go to bed hungry. While these statistics are difficult to confirm or deny, we do know one thing: man’s inventiveness, his crafty ideas of how to plant, grow, and harvest food, are amazing. Just a couple of centuries ago, over 90% of the population was employed in producing food. Today, in most cases, it is 2% or less of the workforce of a country employed in agriculture.

What is the meaning of it all? As repeatedly emphasized, man is so successful with his own inventions that he no longer relies on God’s blessing. He has taken most things into his own hands, and proudly exclaims, “…I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17a).

Not only in the agricultural sector, but on virtually all levels of modern society, man is working toward total independence from God the Creator.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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