Butter should soon be in plentiful supply, as Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is set to sign orders that will increase the amount of butter to be imported, Yisrael Hayom reported. The order will allow for the import of 2,750 tons of butter with no duty for household use, and 3,500 tons for industrial use.
Butter is still in short supply, as it has been for the entire spring and summer. Israeli-produced butter is nowhere to be found, and has been off the shelves altogether for the better part of a year now; what butter was available was highly priced and imported. The vast majority of butter produced in Israel is made by Tnuva, which for the past year and a half has been claiming that there is a milk-fat shortage, meaning that a key ingredient for butter production is missing.
Import duties on butter range from 126% to 160%, depending on whether it is used for household or industrial purposes. The elimination of the duty and opening up the market is expected to bring butter prices down to normal levels, and increase the supply of butter.
While the increase in supply should help relieve the shortage that has plagued Israel for more than a year, Kahlon would have liked to have done more. Kahlon told Yisrael Hayom that “the proper path in this situation is complete elimination of barriers on the import of butter. Unfortunately because we are in a transition government we are unable to take more aggressive steps. The objective with this order is to increase the amount of butter in markets and to reduce the shortage on store shelves. There is no reason for a butter shortage these days. Steps need to be taken in the future to ensure that Israelis never have to face a situation like this again.”
If and how this will have any influence on the chalav Yisrael market remains to be seen.