(Illustration) Dairy Products
(Illustration) Dairy ProductsIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Supervisor of Prices Uri Tzuk-Bar of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recommended Sunday that white cheese with a fat content of 5 percent and sweet whipped cream with a fat content of 38 percent be subjected to government price controls and significant price reductions.

The recommendation came after an investigation which indicated that these goods produced by Tnuva were generating unreasonable profits. Tnuva is the biggest dairy products manufacturer in Israel; its sales account for 70% of the country's dairy market as well as sales of meat, eggs and packaged food.

Implementation of the new recommendation is subject to a public hearing in which Tnuva can state its case. The general public is also invited to testify at the hearing.  

There will only be ten products subject to price control, including standard bread, unsalted butter (the 100 gram weight) and 3%-fat milk. Tzuk-Bar said cottage cheese is not a candidate for supervision because the dairies appear to be policing themselves due to public pressure. The committee is raising the ceiling on supervised products by four tenths of a percent.

Supervisor of Prices, Tzuk-Bar, also stated: “When the market behaves at a level of reasonable profitability, the government does not intervene. It’s important to emphasize that it’s possible that we will intervene on other certain products, if necessary.”

“Additionally, packages of sliced hard cheese were found to be at a high profitability level, but at this point, they will not return under control given the fact that the primary product, yellow cheese, which is an anchor product, will be controlled,” Tzuk-Bar confirmed.

Following public hearings a few months ago, a joint price committee of the Agriculture and Finance Ministries is considering putting price controls over Tnuva brand sweet whipped cream, Emek semi-hard cheese, 200-gram sizes of 4.5% Eshel and 3% Gil unflavored yogurts because of the agricultural cooperative's market share. 

In September 2011,  many Israelis boycotted cottage cheese made by the Tnuva brand because it abused its position to raise cottage cheese prices by more than 40% between 2006 and 2011.