Israeli wholesalers: Agriculture Ministry inflating cucumber, tomato prices

Israel's Ministry of Agriculture's Plants Production and Marketing Board is inflating prices in favor of farmers, claim wholesalers in the Zerifin fruit and vegetable wholesale market, in view of the wide and inexplicable differences between cucumber and tomato wholesale prices published by the Marketing Board and prices published by the independent board Yerkom. The wholesalers claim that these inflated prices are unjustifiably boosting retail prices.

Every morning, the Plants Production and Marketing Board and Yerkom send a reviewer to the market who sets the wholesale price. Last week, wholesalers claimed that the Marketing Board were inflating prices: it set a price of NIS 7.50 per kilogram for tomatoes, compared with NIS 4.60 per kilogram set by Yerkom - an unacceptable difference of 39%. At the same time, the Marketing Board set a price of NIS 3.50 per kilogram for cucumbers, compared with a price of NIS 2.60 per kilogram set by Yerkom - a difference of 26%.

Yerkom CEO Amnon Kedem says, "The inventory of tomatoes at each market trader at the end of the trading day on Tuesday was 165 pallets of tomatoes, or 100 tons. Such a supply of tomatoes at the end of the trading day renders a price of NIS 7.50 per kilogram impossible."

Plants Production and Marketing Board secretary Meir Yifrach says, "The Marketing Board has no interest in artificially inflating prices or lowering prices, and its reviewer does his work professionally, on the basis of real data. The retail chains are responsible for the situation, because they intervene in wholesale prices to avoid paying the real price to farmers. The Marketing Board does not manipulate; ultimately it is a matter of supply and demand. I have proposed that the wholesalers carry out a joint survey with their own reviewer to join the Marketing Board's reviewer every morning, but they have not responded. The pallets mentioned are purchased goods and there are no grounds for its claims."


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