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"Cottage cheese sales plummet as Israeli consumers revolt over price"
Published 00:42 19.06.11
Latest update 00:42 19.06.11
Cottage cheese sales plummet as Israeli consumers revolt over price
Two major supermarket chains offered discounts on the staple food after
masses of Israelis vowed not to purchase due to exorbitant price increase.
By Rina Rozenberg and Adi-Dovrat Meseritz Tags: Israel food Israel health
Israel stock market
Bad news for lovers of bland food: 'White cheese' is off protesters' menu,
The consumers' revolt over the price of cottage cheese is showing mixed
results, with steep declines on Friday in sales of the curds being reported
by two major supermarket chains - and an even steeper rise in a third that
took advantage of or joined in the protest - depending on your perspective -
to slash its price for the staple.
Peer pressure is having an effect. At a Mega store in Shoham on Friday
afternoon a shopper reaching for a container of cottage cheese is roundly
rebuked by another, who tells her, "You're hurting the protest." The
would-be scab meekly withdraws her hand. A similar incident was witnessed in
a Tel Aviv branch of Mega.
Mega operator Blue Square admitted that the chain's cottage cheese sales on
Friday were 25% below average. Blue Square did not join its rivals in
slashing the prices of cottage cheese and other dairy products in recent
Blue Square CEO Zeev Vurembrand said he believed that for retailers to cut
prices now would only heighten demand and work against the boycott.
The Rami Levi supermarket chain reported a 50% jump in its cottage cheese
sales on Friday, after it cut the price from NIS 6.5 to NIS 4.9 for the
familiar 25-gram plastic container.
Adi Zim, an owner of the Hetzi Hinam chain, said his customers are cutting
back on the curds despite the cut in price, to NIS 4.5. He reported a 35%
drop in the volume of cottage cheese sales on Friday, and a 40% slide in
sales of another Israeli standard, the soft, white, unripened cheese known
as "white cheese."
'A just war'
Zim says he's all for the consumer boycott: "I'm in favor of boycotting any
company that raises prices without justification, and today the prices in
the stores are genuinely unjustifiable. I encourage the public to continue
the boycott because it is a just war," Zim said.
On Thursday the leaders of the Facebook-run boycott called a press
conference to announce an escalation of the campaign, moving up the official
start of the boycott from July 1 to "now." They also expanded the list of
shunned products to include white cheese.
Campaign leader Itzik Alrov said the group is recommending that consumers
pay no more than NIS 5 a container for cottage and white cheese in order to
put pressure on retailers that have not yet slashed their prices.
A nonscientific survey of supermarkets on Friday showed that although
consumers are knowledgeable and sympathetic to the cottage cheese part of
the boycott, the message that white cheese is also on the "Don't Buy" list
has not gotten out.
"Sales of white cheese haven't dropped, but despite the rise in sales of
cottage cheese it's obvious that people have heard about the boycott," Rami
Levi said Friday. "I heard people near the dairy case saying that starting
July 1, they won't buy cottage cheese. Maybe they haven't heard that the
boycott was brought forward."