A consumer uprising against the high cost of cottage cheese has made waves at Israeli supermarket chains – and as a result, specials are appearing at supermarkets this week on the product, as supermarkets and dairy companies try to assuage consumers who threatened to boycott cottage cheese because of the high price.
At the beginning of June, dairy product makers Tara, Tnuva, and Strauss raised the price on a wide range of products – with consumers complaining that the price rise came just before Shavuot, when Israelis traditionally celebrate with dairy meals. But the biggest price hike was for cottage cheese, which was raised to close to NIS 8 per 250 gram container.
It was too much for consumer activist Itzik Alrov, who established a Facebook page calling for a one month boycott of cottage cheese. “Eight shekels for such a basic product? Don't buy cottage cheese for a month!” was the title of the page. The page quickly gained attention – with over 12,000 “likes” on just its first day.
Many of the page's visitors posted their own frustration with high prices. “Cottage cheese is a basic food product, and these companies must stop their ridiculous overcharging,” wrote one. “It's unthinkable that such a basic product that this country was built on costs double what they charge in the U.S. and Europe."
"They are stealing from us,” wrote another. Many posted heartfelt messages of support for the effort, and urged Alrov to expand his boycott campaign to other overpriced products.
And the effort has apparently worked: Several supermarket chains announced specials on cottage cheese Tuesday, among them Rami Levy, Kim'at Hinam, and Supersol, which is offering a buy one-get one free deal for cottage cheese.
Deals for other dairy products have appeared as well. A spokesperson for one of the chains said that the protest page had gotten their attention, and that they would pressure manufacturers to lower prices on a permanent basis.
Israeli consumers have not been known for protest in the face of price hikes, which are even announced on the radio for government controlled goods and gasoline. The advent of Facebook and the successful cottage cheese boycott that spread through the web, may change this, since nothing succeeds like success.