The mass protests in Israel over the high cost of living several summers ago were triggered by the high price of cottage cheese, but on Tuesday, it was announced that, protests or otherwise, cottage cheese – and all other dairy products – were going up in price.
Going up by an average of 3.5%, that is – and in this case, Israelis “got off easy,” said Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, considering that the Treasury committee that handles such things was ready to approve an increase of 6.3%. The increase was necessary, said milk producers, because of the high cost of feed and other rising production costs.
The price increases apply to a wide range of dairy products whose prices are still regulated by government edict. Manufacturers, and in turn stores, are not allowed to charge more than a maximum set by a government committee, although they are certainly allowed to charge less. At least one Israeli supermarket chain recently went on a major advertising campaign stressing that it charged less for dairy products than the maximum allowed prices, and in fact undercut all its competitors on dairy products in general.
“Considering that the issue at hand involves a sharp increase in food items that are basic to many Israelis' diet, I have decided to temper the recommendations of the price committee, approving only a smaller price increase for regulated dairy products until a further investigation of the impact of the price increase on manufacturers and consumers can be made,” Steinitz said in a statement.