(photo credit: REUTERS)
Wholesale cucumber prices soared from about NIS 3 to NIS 9 per kilogram on
Tuesday, a jump that some experts blamed on weather changes and holiday farm
closures, and others attributed to lack of manpower in general.
prices of cucumbers are presenting the real market,” Avraham Erlich, manager of
the vegetable department at the Plants Production and Marketing Board told The
Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “The demand is very stable, but the supply changes
all the time. This is why the prices change every day.”
David Magal, of
the marketing department at Hishtil Nurseries, maintained that the sudden sharp
price rise was due to a number of factors: “the mix of weather, the critical
lack of workers and seasonality.”
“All three contribute, but the
situation of the lack of workers and the ability to plant during this time hurts
the period further,” Magal said.
Like Magal, Meir Ifrah, CEO of the
Israeli Vegetable Growers Association, blamed the situation largely on the
decreasing number of workers available to Israeli farmers.
reason for the rise in prices is not the weather this time, but mainly the
reduction in manpower for agriculture in recent times,” Ifrah said. Farm owners
have access to about 2,500 fewer agricultural workers today than are permitted
by the allotted national quota, due to the fact that the government demands
complicated bureaucratic processes for bringing in Thai workers, according to
“As a result of this, farmers are reducing help, and the result is
a rise in prices,” he said.
At Hishtil Nurseries, Magal said that
researchers have developed cucumbers that are resistant to cold and to many
diseases, “but if the growers don’t have enough workers, and can’t prepare their
fields, they can’t be planting them.”
Government policies about foreign
agricultural workers are counterintuitive and are directly correlated with the
prices of cucumbers and all other vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplants and
peppers, Magal added.
“Cucumbers at the moment are extreme,” he
While Erlich agreed that farmers have been dealing with a decrease
in available labor for years due to government policies, he did not feel that
the current cucumber price rise was anything too worrisome and could have
occurred for one of many reasons.
“When people want to make salad every
day, they must have cucumbers, so the demand is very strong,” Erlich said.
“Nobody wants to give up giving cucumbers – it’s one of the major vegetables in
our diet. This is why we’re so worried about the prices.”
The price rise
could have occurred because of colder weather, or because groves are
concentrated in one small area, or because of the holiday break, he
“You must pick cucumbers every day at the right time and you
can’t wait,” Erlich said. “If there is a holiday and you can’t sell them, you
throw them away.”
Erlich stressed that the cucumber situation would
likely resolve itself shortly and that people should not be overly alarmed about
the prices. The cucumber shortage would also not be indicative of problems with
other vegetables, he said.
“The bottom line is that there is a little bit
of shortage in the cucumber market now, and within a few days it will be a
normal market and the price will go down and we don’t have to worry,” Erlich