By Dror Halavy
YERUSHALAYIM – The government has authorized the import of 2,000 tons of customs-free fresh meat, with the aim of bringing down the price of meat in time for the Tishrei Yamim Tovim. The new authorization is a continuation of the policy of bringing in fresh meat without charging customs fees that was started at the beginning of the year. So far, 3,000 tons of meat have been imported under the program.
Winning the tender for the import of the meat were several supermarket chains, including Yochananoff, Yeinot Bitan and Rami Levy. The meat is shechted abroad – so far, Poland has been a popular source for fresh meat – soaked and salted, then chilled and shipped to Israel. Most of the meat is shechted under the hashgachah of the Rabbinate and is glatt Beis Yosef.
Studies have shown that the program has helped bring the overall price of meat down by 11 percent to 25 percent, depending on the season and the cut. As a result of the lower prices, sales of fresh meat have risen by 20 percent since the beginning of the year, while sales of frozen meat, slaughtered and shipped from South America, have fallen by a similar amount.
The alternative to imported fresh meat is locally produced meat, which is substantially more expensive than the imports. The average price for all cuts of locally produced meat is NIS 85 per kilo ($10/pound) vs. NIS 69 per kilo ($8.10/pound) for imports. The price of frozen meat is substantially lower.