Vegetable prices exceptionally high for Passover

Tomatoes Photo: Tamar Matsafi

Imports have been introduced but it will take months for the shortages to be eliminated, the Ministry of Agriculture reports.

Prices of tomatoes and cucumbers are rising exceptionally steeply, fruit prices are high, and butter is in short supply as the Passover holiday approaches, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, wholesale tomato prices rose to NIS 6.90 per kilogram, and cucumber prices were up to NIS 5.90 per kilogram.

A discussion at the ministry yesterday shows that prices of tomatoes and cucumbers will continue rising until Passover, due to a slight shortage. "In response to the shortage," the ministry said today, "customs duties-exempt quotas were opened for foreign tomatoes and cucumbers. The volume of imports is small, however, because overseas prices of tomatoes and cucumbers are also high now."

The tomatoes and cucumbers market is volatile because of independent variables, such as the weather, in contrast to the area sown. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said, "The ministry is continually monitoring the regular supply of fresh fruits and vegetables for the consumers' benefit, and is conducting frequent status assessments… A shortage of tomatoes and cucumbers is liable to cause a rise in consumer prices. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is therefore opening customs duty-exempt quotas for a specific period."

According to the ministry's policy, when the wholesale price of tomatoes exceeds NIS 6 and the whole price of cucumbers exceeds NIS 5 for five consecutive working days, the ministry opens customs duty-free quotas for them. Such quotas were opened last week.

In any case, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also says that fruit prices are high. "There is an abundance of fruit and large inventory, but prices in the market are high nevertheless," the ministry says, except for citrus fruits, especially mandarins, for which prices are fairly low.

There is a shortage of butter in the dairy sector. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development made a number of requests for approval of import quotas in late 2018, but this was done only in late March in a tender that ended in late March. The ministry blames the current shortage on the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice.

"Unfortunately, these actions have not been completed, due to delays by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance. Import quotas will be distributed only starting at the beginning of next week. It takes two to three months after the quotas are distributed for butter to reach Israel, which means that a slight shortage of butter will persist at the current time," the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 4, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Tomatoes Photo: Tamar Matsafi
Tomatoes Photo: Tamar Matsafi
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