Kosher Slaughterhouse's Sales Slump Following Animal Cruelty Expose

Rivals, supermarkets report that Soglowek Foods has suffered up to a 30 percent drop in meat sales after Channel 10 showed chickens being ill-treated at its factory.

Soglowek Food's meat sales have slumped in the wake of a Channel 10 exposé that revealed the animal abuse taking place at the company's slaughterhouse, an investigation by TheMarker shows.

“Since the report was broadcast [on October 29], there has been a 20 percent drop in sales of all the products sold under the brand name Soglowek,” a high-ranking official at another large food company said. He added that the most significant decline, of 25 to 30%, has been in frankfurter sales, both in the deli department and from refrigerated units. “This is a big blow to Soglowek because frankfurters make up a large portion of its sales.”

Officials of the Hashikma supermarket chain owned by Rami Levy say that sales have fallen by 5%. Yossi Sabato, deputy CEO for trading at the company, said it was a significant decline given the short length of time that has passed since the exposé was aired.

An official of a medium-size supermarket chain said sales of Soglowek’s products have gone down by 10 percent at his company, and even further at some branches. The drop in sales was particularly significant at the chain’s stores in Netanya, Modi’in, Afula, Ashdod and Jerusalem.

Of all the supermarket chains that TheMarker contacted, only one said there had been no decline in sales. Nevertheless, supermarket officials said the decline would not last long. “Unfortunately, people here have short memories," one official said. "As long as there is no risk to human life or customers’ health, I think people will go back to buying Soglowek’s products. The ones who remember this will be the handful of the public that cares deeply about animal abuse.”

Less than a week after the investigative and consumer affairs program "Kolbotek" exposed the terrible abuse of animals at the Soglowek slaughterhouse, MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) proposed a bill requiring companies and their managers to be held to account for the abuse of animals.

Khenin, who is the chairman of the Knesset’s social-environmental lobby, proposed two bills on animal rights. One bill demands corporate responsibility when animal protection laws are violated; the other requires that credible information be provided about living conditions for animals in factory farms.

The first bill, which is an amendment to the Animal Protection Law, seeks to attach the crime of negligence to that law, and ensure that the companies and their managers will not be able to evade responsibility for what the company does.

The second bill, an amendment to the Consumer Protection Law, will prohibit misleading customers about the animals’ living conditions and the inclusion of animal-derived ingredients in products.

“Dreadful images came from the Soglowek slaughterhouse last week," said Khenin. "Besides the abuse and the violation of the Animal Protection Law, we saw how an industrial enterprise treats living creatures as raw material; the negligence they show when it comes to the animals’ most basic living conditions and welfare. Recently, we heard that in the case of animal abuse at the Tnuva slaughterhouse, only the contract workers and low-level managers were prosecuted, while the company and its managers were not held to account.”

Last Friday, about 150 demonstrators gathered on Ben Zion Boulevard in downtown Tel Aviv, demanding that the Soglowek slaughterhouse in the Galilee be shut down and the brand be boycotted. The demonstration was organized by the animal rights group Anonymous. One of the group's members, Ronen Bar, broke the story of the Soglowek slaughterhouse. At the same time, more than 6,000 people joined a Facebook group dedicated to boycotting Soglowek.

Also last week, a petition was filed in Tel Aviv District Court to allow a NIS 200 million class-action suit to be brought against Soglowek. In addition, several ministers and MKs, including Tzipi Livni (Hatnuah), Amir Peretz (Hatnuah) and Gilad Erdan (Likud), expressed their displeasure over Soglowek’s actions as shown in the exposé.

A spokesperson for Soglowek said that the level of sales was unchanged.

Kolbotek screengrab