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A Channel 2 News report addresses the high cost of dairy products in Israel, turning our attention to the Badatz Eida Chareidis, the kashrus organization that certifies the milk powder used in Israel’s dairy industry.
The report cites the Eida charges 16% more than the fair marketplace rate, seeking to understand why the additional cost. When the Ministry of Agriculture was approached for a response, the spokesman instructed the reporter to seek a response at the Chief Rabbinate. The Chief Rabbinate does not really see the need for added costs with dairy, throwing the blame on the Eida.
The Eida is not operating as a non-profit and it does have added costs to supervise and maintain the mehadrin standard of the product. However, many consumers feel that while most of the country wishes to eat kosher, they do not understand why the Eida has been given exclusivity regarding milk powder when the Chief Rabbinate of Israel can do the job at a lower cost. The latter will suffice for the majority of kosher consumers. However, the situation is reversed and the most stringent kosher certifier manufacturers milk powder which is used by the nation’s dairy industry, and it appears consumers must pick up the additional cost.
Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett this week announced the planned kashrus revolution, http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/212493/israel-kashrus-revolution-announced-at-press-conference.html which he promises will “earn back the public’s trust and lower the prices in the marketplace”. Bennett is confident that once the new system is up-and-running, many will no longer feel the need to rely on one badatz or another for the Chief Rabbinate promises three levels of kashrus to satisfy all consumers, accompanied by total transparency.
Bennett explains that even in hospitals, when newborns are given formula, four brands will be used because once competition is introduced prices will drop. Today there is one company which maintains exclusivity and Bennett promises those days are about to end. Bennett warns however that the changes will be gradual and one cannot expect the marketplace to change overnight. He estimates it will be a six-month process. Bennett is cautious, explaining there are matters that must be probed but he adds his idea is that those not demanding a higher level of kosher should not have to pay for it while those who do want it, are able to receive that product as well.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)