Following pressure from NIF grantees Hiddush and the Movement for Freedom of Information, the Finance Ministry has revealed that the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on kashrut (Jewish dietary law) certification costs the Israeli economy about $770 million per year, adding about five percent annually to the cost of food production.
Kashrut supervision touches every area of the Israeli food industry, from farmers and manufacturers to supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels. Recently, private kashrut supervision organizations have emerged to open up the market to competition, though the Chief Rabbinate still retains a near-monopoly in the field. This report shows that breaking this monopoly would be a victory not only for religious freedom, but for the Israeli economy as well.
According to the report: “This monopoly requires thousands of jobs and its practices raise the cost of living in Israel as any exclusive provider in the production process would. Situations arise where more restrictive practices are enforced in some places and not others, transparency is lacking, certain suppliers are given preference over others, barriers to entry are erected to products and smaller manufacturers.”
The costs for supervising kosher meat are the greatest, at around NIS 2.06 billion per year, while the costs of supervising supermarkets and hotels amount to nearly NIS 390 million. In addition, kashrut requirements restrict imports (including goods such as cheese), resulting in higher prices from the lack of competition.