Two week before the Passover holiday, over twenty abattoirs in the north of Israel have warned that a severe shortage of poultry and meat is liable to arise. Law firm Herzog Fox & Neeman wrote to Minster of the Economy Nir Barkat yesterday demanding that the problem, which it said could cause the abattoirs to have to shut down, should be solved immediately.
The process of rendering slaughtered poultry kosher involves the use of large quantities of salt. At the end of the process there is an accumulation of brine. This has to be transferred to a special treatment plant from which it is discharged into the sea after purification, as if it is disposed of on site it is liable to contaminate groundwater.
Up to now, brine from abattoirs has been transferred to two treatment plants: the ELO terminal in Akko (Acre) and the Shafdan (Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant) in Rishon LeZion. The abattoirs claim that about half of the poultry and a substantial proportion of the meat consumed in Israel are supplied by abattoirs in the north of the country, which transfer their brine to the ELO plant. The land on which the plant stands has been sold to Tidhar-Harel Menivim, which intends to construct a logistics park on the site, and the plant will cease operations on March 31.
A tender held by the Ministry of the Economy in 2018 was won by Rotem Technologies, which sources say will finish constructing its terminal in six months’ time.
The letter to the Ministry of the Economy warns: "Unless immediate steps are taken to delay the closure of the terminal and/or to provide a suitable immediate alternative solution, this will lead to a severe blow to residents of Israel in general and to residents of the periphery in particular. The irreversible damage will involve, among other things, the layoffs of thousands of workers living in the periphery, a significant increase in road traffic on overcrowded roads and a real transport risk, heavy air and environmental pollution, the creation of a monopoly in the industry, a significant rise in the cost of living because of substantially higher prices, and a shortage of vital products and services for the public.
"The industrialists of the north therefore demand that the Ministry of the Economy should find an immediate solution for the disposal of brine as required by law, and for the extension of the activity of the ELO terminal, to facilitate the regular supply of poultry and meat as the Passover holiday approaches."
One of the solutions for preventing a shortage of poultry is to transport containers to the Shafdan plant. A source familiar with the matter said, "It makes no sense to transport a hundred containers from the north to the south and block all the roads. The farmers are running after the Ministry of the Economy, and the state is doing nothing."
The Ministry of the Economy stated in response: "The phenomenon of producers threatening rises in the prices of their products morning and night has to stop. The citizens of Israel are not hostages, and they will know how to shop cleverly in the face of those who threaten their pockets. This is a market failure by the private sector, which did not manage to gear up for the disposal of waste from the process of slaughtering birds. The Ministry of the Economy is making efforts to help the industry overcome the market failure that has come about, and is working day and night to find a solution to the problem."
Will there now be a rush to the stores to buy up chicken and meat? The Egg and Poultry Board says reassuringly that no shortfall is expected in the quantities of poultry slaughtered in the weeks before Passover.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 21, 2023.
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