“We have asked chains to flag products made in Israel,” said Nachum Izkovitch, the director general of the Agriculture Ministry, which initiated a pilot project with three supermarket chains — Shufersal Ltd, Victory Supermarket Chain Ltd. and Hetzi Hinam.
The move is meant to boost “transparency and openness,” he said. “Consumers have the right to know whether the produce they are buying comes from Turkey, the US or Argentina.”
The produce marked includes vegetables and fruit, fish and meat in a first step toward legislation that the ministry hopes to pass as soon as possible requiring all supermarkets to mark their produce’s country of origin, Izkovitch said.
In October, the ministry asked supermarket chains to join the product-marking pilot program, and in November it put out a consumer survey that showed that most Israelis are interested in knowing the source of their produce. Previous research has shown that Israelis prefer to buy “blue and white products,” i.e., products made in Israel, the ministry said, and are willing to pay a little extra for them reports www.timesofisrael.com
At the Shufersal branch, 47-year old Dror, who was carefully selecting green apples and putting them into a bag, said that it was important for him to know the country of origin of the fresh produce he was buying.
“It depends on the price of course,” he said, after the reporter asked if he had noticed the markings on the produce (he hadn’t). “But it is important to show what is Israeli,” he said. “Because that is what I prefer.”
A the end of last month the ministry put out a statement showing that the levels of pesticides on Israeli fresh produce were lower than those on goods grown to international and European standards.
The survey was performed on a variety of fruits and vegetables imported into Israel, including cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, pears and apples that originated from Turkey, Italy, Argentina, the US, Holland, China, Greece and Jordan, among others. Seventeen percent of the produce tested failed to meet Israeli standards, while just 5% of the same products failed to meet the European standards and just 1% failed to meet the international, Codex, standard for imports, the statement said.