​​The project is expected to result in savings of thousands of Shekels for Israeli households • Nowadays, some 50% of all fruit and vegetables end up in the trash along the production, sorting, storage, sale and consumption chains • The average Israeli family ends up throwing approximately NIS 4,200 worth of unused food into the trash • Marketing chains will be required to display two package sizes in order to enable consumers to buy quantities compatible with the size of their household • Multi-use packaging will be treated preferentially • Support for non-recyclable materials will not be supported • Retail chains which will work to reduce food wastage at their branches through various technologies will be given preferential treatment as will be chains which will, in their offering, include measures for reducing food loss and for extending shelf life in the consumer’s home 

The Ministry of Agriculture has released its Plan to help reduce loss of fresh agricultural produce. This is yet another measure the Ministry of Agriculture is taking in its efforts to reduce food loss. The measure is expected to reduce the quantities of discarded produce at the retail chains by 10%-15%, and also 20%-25% of the produce discarded at the consumer homes by prolonging these products’ shelf life. Food loss is an issue with far-reaching financial, social and environmental implications. It plays a major role in driving up the cost of living. Data collected by the Ministry has found that about half of all fruit and vegetables in Israel ends up in the trash along the production, sorting, storage, marketing and consumption chains. National Insurance data from recent years shows that every year the average Israeli family throws away about NIS 4,200 of unused food. Surveys conducted in recent years by international organizations have indicated that between one-third to one half of all food produced worldwide is lost in the production process and along the supply and consumption chain, and does not end up being consumed by humans. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, the proportion of food loss is between 45% and 55%.

To reduce food loss, the Ministry of Agriculture has initiated a pilot, and following careful study and a lengthy process of public engagement, has drafted the final version of its plan. It is now opening up the tender to retail marketing chains to enable them to propose their solutions for environmentally friendly packaging of fruit and vegetables. The complete procedure is posted on the Ministry of Agriculture website

The packages will protect the produce against bruising and disfigurement, saving the consumer the need to finger it in the process of buying. Sale in smart packaging, sealed and in two sizes with different weights will also help reduce food and money wastage. An added value to this move will be marking of the production origin of the products and recommendations for use. The new packaging will include the details of the producer and the production location, the name of the variety being sold, name of the packing house and packing date. If the produce is imported, then the package will also bear the name of the importer and the name of the country of origin. All these will serve to increase transparency. The packages will also bear the Made in Israel label, increasing awareness that consumers are consuming a Blue-White product. Besides these details, storage instructions and recommendations for use will also be printed on the packages. 

According to the plan, the pilot is intended to reduce the amount of fruit and vegetables sold in bulk in an effort to reduce food loss in the retails segment and in the consumer home segment. It is also intended to evaluate various technologies for reducing food loss in foods sold retail in bulk. Retail chains which will be selected will be required to exhibit sale in two sizes, substantially different in terms of weight, in order to enable sale in accordance with the various household needs. This is also intended to prevent a situation where consumers will be forced to buy quantities which do not fit their needs.

The Ministry also added a parameter of packaging types, according to which significant points will be given to a chain that will offer use of multi-use packages, which will be collected for re-use at the outlets in exchange for a refund on a deposit. Additionally, no support will be possible for packaging made of non-recyclable materials.

The pilot will run for six of the following products: tomatoes (except for cherry tomatoes and special tomatoes), cucumbers (except for baby cucumbers), and peppers (with the exception of the following varieties: Tinkerbell, Sweetbite, Shoshke and Romero), bananas, peaches (all varieties), nectarines (all varieties), avocado (all varieties), and mandarins. In addition, the duration of the pilot will be shortened and there will be an exit point at the end of the first year.

A substantial change to the current version of the procedure is in the assessment of the environmental impacts. Under the pilot, the environmental impacts of all the product types participating in the project will be estimated.

The pilot will run in twenty outlets to which the winning retail chain will be committed. It will last for three years after start of activity. At the end of one year, the retail chain will be able to opt out of the pilot voluntarily subject to their submission of a reasoned explanation and provided they deliver all of the data to the Ministry.

The evaluation and measurement chapter will evaluate the assumption that the environmental benefit from substantial reduction in discarded food along the entire supply chain will lead to a substantial reduction in waste disposal to landfill, and as a consequence, greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced. The pilot will examine the working assumption that reducing landfill will mean reduced greenhouse gas emissions, which is currently much greater compared with the waste that will be added in the form of packaging waste, which will be returned for recycling by the consumers.

The Ministry of Agriculture will assign points to the proposals while prioritizing retail chains which will place emphasis on the environmental aspect. Thus, a chain which will concurrently work to reduce food loss at the outlets while implementing various technologies in the chain’s outlets - will be preferred. For example: refrigerated shelves or tables, humidity solutions, etc.

Additionally, chains which will include means for reducing food loss in their proposal, as well as means for extending shelf life in the consumer homes, means which will be sold or distributed to the consumers in the form of multi-use storage bags, ethylene-absorbent sponges to etc. - will also be awarded extra points.Another opportunity to gain extra points will be for chains offering a consumer outreach program, in which consumers will be encouraged to prevent food loss in the home through advertising, in addition to direct-mailing the chains’ consumer clubs.  

Manager of Market Research in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Zippi Friedkin: “The coming decade is expected to see Israel’s population growing by another one and a half million. Our goal is to guarantee the supply of fresh food and therefore we must already now find solutions to the problem of food waste both at the retail chains and in consumer homes. We must be prepared for the challenges of the future on order to make the most efficient possible use of the limited resources at our disposal”.

In late February, the Ministry of Agriculture issued its draft procedure for supporting the sale of prepackaged agricultural produce in an effort to reduce food loss. Under the procedure, the Ministry intended to encourage the retail chains to move toward marketing fruit and vegetables packaged in special “smart” packaging, which would extend shelf life in the retail segment and in the consumer homes. 

The Ministry invited the public to provide its feedback by mid-March within a public engagement process. A professional panel examined all the comments received from the various entities. They held internal discussions and met with stakeholders on this matter. The Ministry received thousands of comments from private individuals, from environmental organizations, from farmer organizations, from private farmers, from retail chains and others. Each comment was afforded the most comprehensive attention possible.