Stock Up Now: Floods in Asia Set to Push Up Price of Sesame-based Foods

'After the holidays we'll be raising prices by 20 to 25 percent,' says owner of company that processes and markets tehina and halva.

The prices of tehina, halva and other sesame-based products are expected to rise sharply immediately after the holidays, Haaretz has learned. A worldwide sesame shortage has resulted from flooding that damaged crops in major producers of the seeds - China, India and Pakistan.

Eyal Toueg

Meanwhile, Ethiopia, another major source of sesame, has sharply increased its prices to keep up with rising demand.

"After the holidays we'll be raising prices by 20 to 25 percent," said Jawad Agbariyeh, who owns a company that processes and markets tehina and halva under the label Al Wadi. "You can't raise the price during the holidays, so everybody's waiting until afterward."

The price of sesame from Ethiopia has gone up more than 20 percent over the past few weeks, from $1,450 a ton to $2,750 a ton.

Another local manufacturer, Ibrahim Bashir, CEO of Rushdi Food Industries, says he has also not raised prices because of the holidays, but if the price of sesame does not come down, his company will be raising its prices by about 10 percent.

Alon Kandinoff, of Prince Tehina, which markets tehina worldwide and also produces private labels for the Mega and Eden Teva Market chains, says prices of their export products would go up first. "As for prices in Israel, you have to understand that it's very difficult to raise prices to Super-Sol and Blue Square in our field," referring to the two biggest supermarket chain owners in the country. "In the coming month, we won't raise prices but we might do so in November or December," he said.

The manufacturers of salads and dips containing tehina will also have to pay more for the product, according to Bashir.

Bashir says tehina is not yet scarce and only in November, the month in which sesame is imported, will it be known whether the needs of the local market will be covered.