Marker Survey: Israeli Food Prices Higher Than in Most – but Not All – of Europe

Using Eurostat figures, TheMarker finds wide variations in Europe prices, but Israel’s are usually at the steepest end. The few bargains in Israel are white rice and tomatoes

Oren Ziv

How cheap it is in Germany.

At any grocery, you can buy a sweet, juicy pineapple big enough to feed the whole family for just 1 euro ($1.25). If you want to splurge and buy it pre-cut in a package, you will have to spend more – 1.50 euros or maybe 2. Why in Israel does a midget pineapple cost 30 shekels ($7.89)?

But despite this, it is it possible that oh-so-cheap isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be? Do we have a tendency to remember the prices that surprise for the good – the fresh pasta at 10 shekels a package or the six-pack of beer that costs a third what it does in Israel?

The European Union statistics bureau, Eurostat, did the work for TheMarker and supplied a thorough, wide-ranging analysis of prices for food, beverages and basic services.

The figures are based on prices from the end of 2013 and some of them from the end of 2012, but inflation in Europe last year was a mere 0.8%, and this year through September it is an even lower 0.4%, so any changes in prices since then have been minimal.

What they show is that Germany is by no means the home of the cheapest food prices, even though the latest outcry against high Israeli food prices was set off by a Facebook post comparing Israel’s high-cost Milky chocolate pudding with a much cheaper German version.

In fact, German food and beverage prices are 6% above the EU average. Spain had the lowest prices at 7% below the average.

The real bargains were in Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries – in Poland, 40% below the EU average and Bulgaria, 32% under it. Israel, according to the Knesset Research and Information Center, has food prices 25% above the EU average.

To compare prices in Israel, TheMarker used data from the mysupermarket.co.il price-comparison website, which takes into account prices over the previous two-and-half years, comparing prices for home delivery from Super-Sol, Mega, Rami Levy and others.

It comes as close as anything in Israel to supplying the same database as Eurostat.

TheMarker compared the prices of 12 products, among them rice, flour, olive oil, coffee and cigarettes using the same methodology as Eurostat, sampling different package size for a wide range of products.

Highest and lowest

The comparison was done between Israel and two European countries – one to the country with the lowest price for the product and one with the highest price.

Israel turned out to be the most expensive country for about a third of the products surveyed.

For example, the average price of one liter of olive oil in the year 2014 up through October 27 was 47.10 shekels. That was 7% more than in Slovakia, which had the highest European price and 300% more than in Spain, which had the lowest.

At 89.60 a kilo, ground roast coffee in Israel cost 37% more than in Britain, which had the highest European prices. Vodka in Israel was 6% over the European top price and 100% fresh-squeezed orange juice 5% more.

With other products, Israel was within the European price range, although typically at the top end of it.

White flour sold for 3.80 shekels a kilo in Israel, 46% more than in the Czech Republic but cheaper than it was in Greece by 41%. Ground beef at 46.30 a kilo was more expensive in Israel than in Poland but cheaper than in Switzerland. Cigarettes cost more in Israel than in Bulgaria but less than in Ireland.

A kilo of whole chicken was more expensive in Israel than in Poland but cheaper than it was in Austria.

The lowest prices in Israel were for fresh tomotoes and white rice. Tomatoes were 11% less than Bulgaira thge low-price tomato leader in Europe.

A report by the Knesset Research and Information Center released last week found that found that Israeli food prices were 25% higher than in the European Union.

Breaking down food by category, the study found that products made in industries with little competition, such as soft drinks, where Central Bottling (Coca Cola) and Jafora control 83% of the market, prices were the highest – 68% more than the European average.

In fresh produce, where the industry has lots of small players, prices in Israel were 8% lower than in Europe on average.