couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the tag “eu”

Sweet revenge against the EU

The Russian invasion of the Ukraine has made many nations upset, including the EU.  The EU, in fact, is so upset with Russia that it has banned the export of all EU produce to the Soviet nation.  In theory that is commendable, but nobody thought of the European farmers who are left with a considerable amount of produce and no buyer.  The EU then came up with the idea of selling the produce to a neutral country, having that country change the origin labeling and then sell it to Russia.  To that end, representatives from Holland came to Israel to meet with farmers from the Jordan Valley to present their idea.  Their presentation did not go over so well- actually, it was refused on the spot.  Why?  Well, as you, know, the EU has insisted on the labeling of all food that comes from Israel as to where exactly it was produced to boycott products from Yehuda and Shomron.  Considering that parts of the Jordan Valley is included in that boycott, the farmers felt that the Dutch request was quite audacious.

I for one am glad that we stood up for ourselves!

Source: Mekor Rishon

Aliyah tip #8- Are you sure that food is organic?

Making the commitment to eat only organic food is not something easily done when you have a tight budget.  Unfortunately, healthier food seems to always be more expensive than processed junk food, and organic produce is no exception.  Israel is a major exporter of organic produce to the EU- 13% of our exported produce is organic, which translated to 85,504 tons of vegetables, 2192 tons of fruits, and 2230 tons of citrus in 2013.   It might surprise you to learn that until 2008 there was no legislation governing organic produce- for example what conditions it can be grown under, what products can be used on organic fruits and vegetables and what symbols are acceptable to identify organic produce.  Since the new law was passed in 2005 (it did not come into effect until 2008) these issues have all been addressed as well as a penalty for falsely labeling a product as organic when it is not.  The law has been written in English and Hebrew so feel free to follow the link and read for yourself.

All produce that is certified organic in Israel must have the Ministry of Agriculture’s symbol, shown here:

In addition, each certified organic product must have the symbol of the certifying agency that inspected the operator.  There are three approved agencies and their symbols are shown below.

In order to ensure that these foods are truly produced without unapproved chemicals such as pesticides, the Ministry of Agriculture samples fresh fruits and vegetables as well as processed foods such as bread and rice cakes and submits them for laboratory analysis.  The results of those tests have recently been published and it is good news for organic consumers.  When products were first tested in 2009, 24% showed the presence of unapproved chemicals.  In 2010 the percentage dropped to 8.6%; 2011 went down further to 3.6%, 2012 went back up to 6.8% and 2013 again showed a downturn to 3.8%.

Since Israel exports organic produce to the EU, it is subject to periodic auditing from the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission.  In 2013 they performed an audit on the production of organic produce in Israel.  The full report can be found on their web site along with the Israeli government’s response.  Overall they were satisfied with the Israeli legislation (which is based on the European legislation) and its implementation.  They felt that Israel’s sampling technique and the amounts sampled should be improved as well as the quality of inspections performed at the producer level.  They did find the presence of certain illegal pesticides which the Israeli government agreed to enforce more strongly.  One comment I did find disturbing was that the Europeans were dissatisfied that “foreign” produce was intermingling with Israeli produce and being labeled as Israeli produce.  What is this “foreign” produce?  Produce that comes from the West Bank- Yehuda and Shomron.  What was Israel’s response?  That this matter is an issue for the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and the European Commission to decide.  Once it is agreed upon at that level, it will be implemented on the “ground level”.

For a list of products that can be used on organic produce, click on the Organic Pesticide Publication (Hebrew/English)

Sources: Ynetsimun_tozeret_organit

A real look at the price of food in Israel

report came out last week from the Knesset comparing prices in Israel to other OECD countries and analyzes the possible reasons along with debating the necessity for a new law to increase competition in the food industry.  There are so many things I would like to share with you from the report, but I will start with the graphs.

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This shows the real change in the Consumer Price Index from 2005-2013.  The US and the EU are at 1.8% whereas Israel is at 16%- the highest of all of the nations.

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This shows the sales tax percentage on food in 2010.  Israel is at 12%, the OECD average is 8.9%.  The US, Canada, and the UK are 1% or less.

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This chart shows what percentage of the market the top three manufacturers control, split into different food groups.  The most striking is dairy products, where the top three companies control 90% of the market.  Of course since Israel is a small country, it naturally has less manufacturers than the US or EU, for example.

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This chart shows what percentage of the market each supermarket chain has.  Shufersal is #1 with 34%, Mega has 20%, Rami Levy only 8%, Yaynot Biton 5%, Kimat Chinam 4% and the rest have 29%.

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The good news is that the hold the two main supermarket chains have on the market has slowly been decreasing since 2007- from 69% to 56%.

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This shows the five main food companies in Israel (Strauss, Osem, Tnuva, Unilever and The Central Organization for Soft Drinks) and what brands are theirs.

 

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This chart shows the percentage of the market held by private brands in 2009.  Israel is at the bottom with 5% and the average is 23%.

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Of course, the manufacturers have expenses as well.  The top chart shows that the price of electricity went up 36% for Israeli manufacturers as compared to 63% for the EU.  The middle chart shows that the price of workers went up the same in the EU as in Israel.  The bottom chart shows that Israeli manufacturers pay a much higher amount for property tax than other OECD countries- 84.7 thousand shekels as compared to the average 38 thousand shekels.

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This chart, however, was the big shocker.  Here we see the difference between the EU and Israel regarding food- in Israel prices jumped 16% since 2005 and the EU jumped 1.8%.  The first group, however, innocently called “miscellaneous” jumped 54.9% for Israelis and 2.3% for Europeans.  What is included in that group? cigarettes/tobacco, toiletries and cosmetics, jewelry, bags and office supplies, infant products and legal services.  

Where has Israel succeeded in lowering prices?  Education went down 4.9% in Israel and went up 24.2% in the EU.  Transportation went down as well by 8.6% whereas in the EU it went up by 6.1%.

In my next post I will talk about the proposed new law and what the committee’s recommendations were.

 

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