Israeli honey prices cause a sticky situation

By Anna Sheinman, September 22, 2011

The Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS) has claimed, just in time for Rosh Hashanah, that "outrageous" customs duties mean honey in Israel is 350 per cent more expensive that in the US, and 200 per cent more expensive than in the UK.

Speaking to Ha'aretz, Keren Harel-Harari, an economist at the Jerusalem Institute, said honey prices were so high because retailers were able to charge huge mark-ups due to the lack of competition.

Customs duties of up to 255 per cent of the value of the product made importing impractical, and so Israeli producers could charge what they want.

However, the Israel Honey Production and Marketing Board claimed that figures in the report were "erroneous and mendacious", insisting that honey in the US did not cost $1.60 for a 350g (12oz) jar as JIMS stated, but cost $4 on average.

Given that the price of even the cheapest bottle of the sticky stuff in Walmart is around $3, it seems the Honey Board's figure is more likely to be true.

Ms Harel-Harari said "the average Israeli consumes about 300 grams of honey during the Tishri holidays". At current prices, this much honey will cost NIS 18, or £3.14.

Last updated: 5:05pm, September 22 2011