(photo credit: Tamar Matsafi)
The consumer backlash against the price of cottage cheese found a place once
again in Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz’s daily schedule, when he met Thursday
morning with the major dairy manufacturers and retailers in his Tel Aviv
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Steinitz said that he wanted to hear all sides to the story
before making decisions, and that his objective was not to deal solely with the
rising or falling price of dairy products, but “to examine whether there has
been a market failure” as a whole.
“I want to emphasize that this is not
a matter of good and bad. We need to see what happened and if the situation can
be fixed. There will not be a package deal or a dividing of responsibility; the
full responsibility rests with the government.”
Noticeably absent from
the talks were dairy farmers themselves. They have claimed Steinitz is unfairly
pinning responsibility on those who rear the cattle, who claim they earn the
government-set sum of NIS 2.15 per liter of unprocessed milk.
passed the responsibility for finding a solution to marketing networks and
companies producing dairy products, such as Tnuva or Tara, who set prices for
the consumer. This opinion, Israel Radio said, is shared by the Dairy Council
and the the Union of Dairy Cattle Farmers, representing some 3,000 families in
President Shimon Peres also weighed in on the issue Thursday,
when he told bloggers at the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem that
Israel had transformed from “the land of milk and honey” into “the land of
“Even though Israel has some of the highest standards of
milk produce in the world, the public pays unreasonable costs for dairy
products,” he said.
“The cost of the brokerage between the dairy farms
and the consumers must be altered. And there must be a response not just to the
cost of cottage cheese but also to the cost of living in Israel in
The recent suggestion by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that
the government would consider opening the dairy market to imports won the
backing of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.
VP for the
business organization Arye Zief said it was a matter of “urgency” that the
government open the market to outside products.
And as the
Facebook-inspired consumer boycott looks no closer to dying down, the big
manufacturers – Tnuva, Strauss, Tara – may be starting to feel the effects of
the public’s anger. According to findings in a Globes report, Tnuva cottage
cheese sales have fallen 25 percent in quantitative terms since the boycott
campaign was launched at the beginning of last week.
The newspaper quoted
one former Tnuva manager as saying the company “has never seen such a
precipitous drop in cottage cheese sales in its history.”