Not-so-sweet new year – honey costs skyrocket

Price of honey is 3.5 times higher than in the US because of governing system which prevents competition, importation.

September 23, 2011 01:30
1 minute read.
A honey shop on Mahane Yehuda

honey311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Rosh Hashana tradition of sweetening the new year with honey may have acquired a sour taste. A study has found that Israelis will pay around 3.5 times more for the holiday staple than their American counterparts.

The price of honey in Israel has risen 26 percent in five years, according to a report from the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. It is now twice as expensive as in England, while Canada, Mexico, Argentina and China export honey at 15% the price of Israeli honey.

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“Forty percent of the annual consumption of honey in Israel takes place at holiday time this month, mainly on the Jewish New Year. Israelis will consume 1,500 tons of honey in one month, valued at NIS 60 million.

An average Israeli will eat 300 grams of honey,” JIMS economist Keren Harel-Harari wrote.

Harel-Harari said honey was expensive for the same reasons that dairy products – which have been the subject of consumer boycotts since June – are expensive: because of bad government policy and over-centralization of the industry.

Two-thirds of the price of honey goes to retailers, Harel- Harari said, citing the Honey Council. She added that outrageous customs duties prevent imports, so Israel brings in honey from only seven of 56 approved countries. A jar of natural honey faces NIS 17 in customs fees, and tariffs can be as high as 255%, according to the report.

Harel-Harari said the Honey Council seemingly grants exemptions from tariffs to only the largest local producers, which encourages centralization and prevents competition.

Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, located 10 km. south of Ashkelon, has more than 50% of the market share.

“JIMS recommends eliminating high tariffs on honey to increase the amount of imported honey and the number of countries from which it is imported. It is recommended that producers list the country of origin on jars,” the institute said.

“The Honey Council’s allocation of exemptions and the lack of transparency in the council’s operations should be investigated, which may enable the question of its continued existence, or the scope of its authority, to be addressed.”

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