Shavuos, which takes place next week, is traditionally the “dairy holiday” in Israel, and makers of dairy products are preparing for a sharp increase in the purchase of milk and milk-derived products. According to the Agriculture Ministry, those manufacturers can expect to sell 53 percent more dairy products in the week before the holiday, based on 2016 figures.
During the seven days before Shavuos last year, Israelis bought 198 million milk and cheese-based products, compared to 129 million in a non-holiday week. The biggest pre-Shavuos sales bump was for white soft cheese (comparable to cream cheese), with sales rising 132 percent over an average week, and for sweet cream, which increased 211 percent.
Annually, the average Israeli consumes 178 liters of milk a year. Of that, 53 liters comes in the form of liquid milk, with the next highest category yogurts and yogurt snacks, responsible for 22 liters of the total milk intake. White soft cheese was also popular, with Israelis consuming 12.5 kilos of the stuff a year (equivalent to 56 liters of milk). Hard cheese is less popular, with Israelis eating an estimated 4.5 kilos a year, equivalent to 46 liters of liquid milk.
That milk is almost all domestically produced. Israeli cows are the biggest producers of milk a year, with an average Israeli cow producing 11,970 liters of milk per year. Milk production has risen 71 percent since 2006, despite the fact that there are 25 percent fewer farmers raising cows now than a decade ago.