Cottage price rises for 1st time since protests
Steinitz blocks even larger price hike; fruit and vegetable prices also increase, while January inflation drops 0.2%.
tnuva cottage cheese Photo: Reuters
The price of cottage cheese, the seemingly innocuous dairy product that set off
consumer boycotts and laid the groundwork for the 2011 social protest, rose 3.5
percent on Sunday morning, from NIS 5.95 to NIS 6.16, in accordance with Finance
Ministry price regulations.
Tnuva, the country’s leading dairy
manufacturers, tread cautiously over the sensitive product’s price.
accordance with the government decision, the prices of Tnuva’s supervised
products including milk, Emek deli cheese, butter, yogurt and cheese are rising
an average of 3.5%,” Tnuva CEO Arik Shor said in a statement.
to sensitively manage the balance of basic dairy product prices, and that’s what
While other dairy prices have risen, this is the first time
the price of cottage has increased since the social protests.
committee actually recommended raising dairy prices by 6.3%, but Finance
Ministry Yuval Steinitz only allowed a 3.5% increase.
“Given the fact
that we’re talking about a sharp price increase on a basic product, I found it
necessary to moderate the committee’s recommendation,” Steinitz said.
original decision on pricing was due several months ago, but at the request of Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu in the run-up to elections, the issue was set aside. Steinitz
said the pricing committee was already in the advanced stages of reexamining its
But that didn’t stop social activists from expressing
“Instead of milking cows, at Tnuva they have decided to
milk the Israeli consumer,” said Itzik Alrov, who initiated the cottage cheese
protests in June 2011.
“In order to lower the cost of living and reduce
prices, the regulators must order the immediate dismantling of Tnuva into
several smaller companies that will compete with one another,” he continued,
calling the lack of competition in the dairy market “shocking.”
spokeswoman for the Agriculture Ministry noted that basic products under price
supervision were sold below their market value as a result of government
intervention, adding that competition is not the only problem in Israel’s dairy
“The biggest issue is the price of grain to feed the cows,” she
In Europe, greener pastures mean European dairies spend less on
grains throughout much of the year. A lack of abundant edible greens in Israel
ultimately makes milk more expensive, she said.
Tnuva pointed out that in
October 2012, the price of raw milk rose 9.4%. However, the Agriculture Ministry
noted, products like fruits and vegetables are generally cheaper in Israel than
Unfortunately, those prices are on the upswing as
According to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics
on Sunday, despite a general 0.2% fall in the consumer price index from December
2012 to January 2013, fruits and vegetable prices rose 5.7%.
the report, this increase hit poor communities harder than rich
When adjusted to reflect the general “basket” of goods the various
classes consume, fruit and vegetable prices jumped 7.4% for the weakest fifth of
the population in the past month, while only rising an adjusted 4.7% for the
economy’s strongest fifth.
The spike came mostly from fresh vegetable
prices, which rose 12.6% in January, led by large price increases in the cost of
eggplants (62.1%), tomatoes (23.6%), cucumbers and zucchinis (21.2%
Were January’s food prices not countered by a sharp 8.1% drop in
clothing prices and a 2.4% dip in cellular prices, the overall inflation would
have remained positive.
Since last January, inflation balanced out at a
Apartment prices, which are not counted in the index, rose
6.7% in 2012.