Meat, fish and chicken consumption up for Passover; so is food waste
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Meat, fish and chicken consumption up for Passover; so is food waste

Agriculture Ministry statistics find chicken purchases increase by 150%, Israelis throw away more than NIS 1.1 billion worth of food before and after holiday

Jars of Gefilte Fish sit on the shelves awaiting purchase from consumers at McCaffrey's Passover Store April 2, 2004 in Yardley, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Jars of Gefilte Fish sit on the shelves awaiting purchase from consumers at McCaffrey's Passover Store April 2, 2004 in Yardley, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Israelis buy six times as much fresh carp in the month around Passover compared to the rest of the year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development released ahead of the festival.

Carp is the main ingredient in gefilte fish, a traditional fish-loaf that is a Passover staple among Ashkenazi Jews.

Israeli fish consumption is actually much lower than its Mediterranean neighbors. The average Israeli eats about 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of fish per year, compared to 30 to 60 kilograms (65 to 130 pounds) in other Mediterranean countries.

During Passover, Israeli red meat consumption also increases by 45 percent and chicken consumption increases by 150% compared to average days. Israelis eat an average of 16 kilograms of red meat and 58 kilograms of chicken each year.

The average in OECD countries is 30 kilos of chicken per person per year, and in the United States 50 kilos. The global average of chicken consumption is 14 kilograms per person per year.

Though eggs have a special place in the holiday’s Seder meal, symbolizing new beginnings, Israeli consumption of eggs increases by just 7%. Israelis eat an average of 240 eggs per year, and some 2 billion eggs are produced each year at 2,000 chicken farms in Israel, mostly in the northern region.

With the increase in consumption, Passover is also one of the most wasteful times of year in Israel. According to Leket, a food rescue organization, just during the month of Passover, food worth about NIS 1.126 billion ($313 million) is lost. This amounts to 106,000 tons (239 million pounds) of edible food that is simply thrown away, the equivalent weight of about 350 Boeing 747 planes.

Food loss during this time is about 14% higher than in regular months, according to Leket and the BDO consulting firm. This is because a lot of non-kosher-for-Passover food like bread and pastries is thrown out by the retail chains and consumers before Passover. Additionally, Passover-specific foods such as kosher-for-Passover cornflakes, cookies, and matzah are not generally eaten after the seven-day holiday, because they don’t taste very good, and are therefore thrown out by both consumers and supermarkets.

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