Food Surpluses and Food Insecurity
Sep 01, 2007

Israel's success in agricultural development has come with its own paradox - crop surpluses that are destroyed to protect prices and an increasing rate of food insecurity throughout the nation. Surpluses occur when the government sets minimum prices for produce that is higher than the market price.

Israeli price-subsidy policies remove the surplus by putting it on the export market at below-market prices (compensated by the government) or the surplus is destroyed as a form of price-support subsidy to producers. This surplus could be a significant resource to aid food support programs for schools and poverty assistance programs in partnership with non-governmental organizations and philanthropies in Israel.

In 2005, 15,400 tons of surplus fruit, vegetables, and eggs worth almost $1 million were destroyed. Annual non-harvested surplus destruction varies greatly and has been as much as 2 to3 times greater, depending on the year, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The policy brief strongly recommends that the agricultural surpluses be redirected to the school lunch program. The brief states that a reduction of agricultural subsidies would provide school lunches for 47 percent of public elementary schools and preschools in Israel and 70 percent of all children living below the poverty line.

The Hebrew version of the policy brief is available for download here.