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Lots of Honey, But Maybe No Milk on Rosh Hashana

Consumer groups have found their next target: Milk producer Tnuva. Activists demanding that it lower prices for dairy products or else...
By David Lev
First Publish: 9/6/2011, 11:42 PM

After successfully pressuring Israel's largest supermarket chains – Supersol and Blue Square (Mega) – to roll back prices, activists demanding a more reasonable cost of living have targeted Tnuva, Israel's largest dairy producer, as next on their list.

The Tel Aviv University Students' Union, which has been leading the campaign for lower prices on Facebook, declared Tuesday that it would give Tnuva until the weekend to substantially roll back prices – or face a boycott that would extend until at least Rosh Hashana.

Ironically, it was Tnuva cottage cheese that was the flashpoint for this summer's mass demonstrations against the high cost of living, and the tent protests demanding lower housing costs. A Facebook group formed over the high price of cottage cheese quickly gained supporters, and sales of cottage cheese plummeted. Tnuva and retailers responded by cutting the price of cottage cheese by as much as half.

The Students' Union says that while cottage cheese may be a bit cheaper, Tnuva is still charging far too much for other products, including milk. As Tnuva controls at least 52% of the dairy market – and much more for some specific products – it makes sense that Tnuva would be targeted by groups seeking a lower cost of living, the Students' Union said.

Several other student groups have already announced full support of the boycott, and more groups are expected to join it in the boycott.

The groups are confident that Tnuva will be responsive, as Supersol was last week, when students threatened to boycott the supermarket chain unless prices were cut there. The groups negotiated with Supersol management, and in the end announced that they were cutting prices on some 1,500 items by about 20% between now and Pesach.

Tnuva said in a statement that it “regretted” the possible boycott. “We were the first ones to lower the price of cottage cheese on a permanent basis,” the company said. “As a company that supports 8,500 families, we hear the voice of consumers. We intend to continue taking steps that will benefit customers,” the company said.