"Waste not, want not." goes the saying. The Leket Yisrael organization (which distributes leftover food and agricultural produce to the poor) published Tuesday morning its second national report about food waste and methods to salvage food in Israel.
The report, which was presented for the second time this year, focused on institutional meals and surveyed the numerous methods employed around the worked to reduce food waste.
The report reveals that the value of the 2.4 million tons of wasted food in Israel runs to 19.5 billion NIS. About a half of this wasted food could be salvaged - about 1.2 million tons valued at 8 billion NIS.
The amount of wasted food in institutions was estimated at 214,000 tons which represents 30% of the food consumption in institutions and has an estimated value of 3.5 billion NIS. A third of the cooked food wasted by institutions was salvageable. This means that 64 million cooked meals a year could be saved, representing 70,000 tons of food at a value of 1.1 billion NIS.
The report presents for the first time in Israel a detailed model of how to estimate food wasted by institutional consumers. In places where over the past year 1.8 million people ate in large groups, the potential for salvaging large quantities of food and the ability to collect it and transfer it to the needy is much greater.
The report also included details provided by the Agricultural Ministry, The Volcani Institute, and the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Gidi Kroch, the director-general of Leket Yisrael, said that "in Western countries there have been intensive efforts recently to prevent food waste and the Israeli government should follow in their footsteps. In the past year since the first report about food wastage and salvaging, Leket Yisrael managed to promote a law in the Knesset to encourage the salvaging of leftover food. The law passed an initial reading and is now in the committee for Labor, Social Affairs, and Health.
"This is a step in the right direction," said Kroch, "but in order to continue to promote the matter there must be a national goal of salvaging food, similar to that proposed by the UN and adopted by the American government.
"It should be a condition for issuing government tenders towards private businesses that they salvage food, just as federal law mandates in the US. Government bodies should be required to distribute leftover food to food associations. The more the sources of salvaging will be broadened, the more it is possible to achieve greater economic value for the food."
Hen Herzog, chief economist at the Ziv Haft accounting firm, maintains that despite the fact that institutions require surplus food, throwing away surpluses is an economic, social, and environmental stupidity.
"Every shekel invested in salvaging food attains an economic compensation 3.6 times greater. If we take into account external influences - environmental and social - the compensation may even be 7.2 times greater. From an environmental perspective salvaging food is a win-win situation which enables food production without overusing natural resources, contaminating land or using up water and fertilizers."
Salvaging food could lead to a reduction in nutritional deficiencies and could save the economy some 73% in costs. At a cost of 810 million shekels a year we could salvage food worth 3 billion shekels and eradicate food shortages in Israel," added Herzog.