'Mishloach manot' basket
'Mishloach manot' basket Israel news photo: Crown Heights Info.

Last year’s “cottage cheese” boycott movement now is taking on Elite-Strauss, which manufactures the popular Israeli Pesek Zman chocolate wafer, and the protesters have threatened the company with a boycott that will include the Purim holiday next month.

Purim is big-time for candy makers as Jews stuff their gift baskets, called “Mishloach Manot”, with goodies for friends and relatives.

The price of Pesek Zman – Hebrew for Time Out – is only 69 cents in the United States while costing approximately $1.50 (5.7 shekels) in Israel.

The irony of an Israeli product costing double the price at home compared to outside the country has infuriated Itzik Alrov, leader of the “cottage cheese” boycott that aimed to bring down the price of dairy products last year.

“The People of Israel will have a Purim holiday without Strauss-Elite products,” he was quoted as saying by Globes, which discovered the price difference. At the height of the cottage cheese boycott campaign, Elite-Strauss cut the price of cheese but quietly raised the price of Pesek Zman by five percent.

"It seems that your company is exploiting its dominance and monopolistic power, and the lack of government regulation to allow yourselves to sharply raise prices even when it is clear that the only reason is your insatiable appetite for consumers' money,” the boycott leaders wrote Strauss executives.

“Israel's people are paying a scandalous price for your products, while foreign consumers pay a substantially lower price. This conduct creates an intolerable situation in which the public is forced to pay exorbitant prices for food products, reducing its consumption to the absolute minimum,” the letter added.

Strauss issued a press release Sunday afternoon stating that prices on 50 products have been reduced, and that retailers and not the manufacturer set the prices of its products. It added that many chocolates can be found at prices far lower than those quoted by Globes.