Haredim buning hametz GALLERY 465 1.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Passover is one of the most wasteful times, with some 230,000 tons of food worth around NIS 1.8 billion lost each year, the national food bank Leket Israel said on Tuesday.
While consumers are shopping for Passover, supermarkets are preparing as well by getting rid of their surplus stock of hametz products in order to make way for their kosher for Passover products.
According to the NGO, this results in a loss that is about 15% higher than in regular months. Similarly, special kosher for Passover food, such as cornflakes, cookies and matza that will not be eaten after the holiday is also thrown out by consumers and supermarket chains.
This announcement comes on the heels of Leket’s third annual report on food waste and rescue, written in collaboration with the BDO Ziv Haft Consulting Group, which this year focused on waste in the retail and distribution industry.
According to the annual report, Israel wastes some 2.3 million tons of food annually, accounting for 33% of all food produced in the country.
The economic value of this lost food stands at some NIS 19.5b. and translates to a loss of some NIS 675 per month, per household.
Despite this staggering amount of waste, Leket has proposed a solution. It wants to strengthen food rescue as an alternative to food production.
Estimates show that around half of all the wasted food, some 1.1 million tons, is rescuable, meaning that it is worthy of human consumption.
The value of this rescuable food, half of which is found in the retail and distribution sectors, is estimated at NIS 7b. annually.
Numerous OECD countries around the world have already begun adopting measures to reduce food waste by 50% – a goal established by the UN in 2015. However, Israel has yet to establish a minimum goal.
“The report on food waste and rescue in Israel, which Leket released this past month together with BDO, indicated that it is highly worthwhile to solve the problem of food insecurity in Israel by rescuing food,” Leket’s CEO Gidi Kroch said on Tuesday.
Each year, ahead of the major holidays, charitable organizations have to step up in the absence of significant government aid to answer the uptick in requests for assistance for the underprivileged.
As such, Leket revealed it has received a 35% increase in requests from its 200 nonprofit partners to provide rescued food for the needy.
“We distribute food to the needy, especially in anticipation of the Passover holiday, when we receive so many requests from our nonprofit partners,” Kroch said. “We have been working hard to increase the quantities of vegetables and fruit to meet this demand.”
In the past month leading up to the holiday, some 1,600 tons of fruits and vegetables were donated to Leket from farmers, packing houses and surplus food crops, which were slated for destruction and instead given for distribution to the needy.
Similarly, in terms of hot meals, there was also an increase in the number of kosher for Passover meals donated, including 4,000 meals to ensure that the elderly and Holocaust survivors will have daily meals throughout the holiday.
In addition, hot meals will be donated to nonprofit organizations in a number of cities for community Seders.