Tnuva Fights Back With Discounts as Boycott Starts to Hurt

Tnuva's sales are falling at some supermarket chains as the consumer boycott ramps up, despite the company's latest offer of a second item at half price. Yesterday Tnuva, Israel's largest food company, announced new sales to fend off the boycott. Its leaders came out against excessively high prices, in particular for Tnuva's dairy products.

Student organizations called for a week-long boycott of all Tnuva products, starting Monday evening.

cohen - Ofer Vaknin - June 17 2011
Ofer Vaknin

Among the new offers are two 250-gram containers of cottage cheese for NIS 10, or two 230-gram containers of soft white cheese for NIS 10.

The Rami Levi-Shivuk Hashikma supermarket chain said yesterday Tnuva sales had fallen 4% on Monday compared to the week before, while sales of rival dairy Tara were up 6% and 7.5% for Strauss.

A senior executive at another supermarket chain said Tnuva sales were down 15% on Monday, while another chain spoke of a 7% drop. At Kim'at Hinam sales of Tnuva products fell 18%.

Two other chains, including Blue Square's Mega, said they saw no change in Tnuva's sales on Monday. Tnuva hopes that the latest deals, along with its previous increase in package sizes at no additional cost last week will help the dairy fend off the boycott.

At one chain, sales of Tnuva's chocolate milk plunged 40%, soft white cheese sales dropped 35%, cottage cheese sales fell 28% and there was a 14% drop in hard yellow cheese sales. All told, the chain saw a 15% drop in Tnuva's sales. But, said a senior executive at the chain, dairy sales in general, for all companies, dropped 7%.

"I don't think Tnuva will feel a big drop. When people do their shopping for the [Rosh Hashanna] holiday, they will not care what brand they buy," said a senior executive at one of the chains. "Who is boycotting Tnuva is mostly the younger generation and residents in the center of the country," he added.

Tnuva said it will continue to offer new and surprising sales to its customers. "We will continue the constant dialogue with consumers and we appreciate their loyalty," said Tnuva.

Students deter shoppers

The Ramat Aviv Mall in the well-off but sleepy northern Tel Aviv neighborhood was filled with people yesterday morning. The mall is only a short distance from the campus of Tel Aviv University, and its Student Union decided to open their boycott campaign there against Tnuva and call on Super-Sol customers at the mall not to buy Tnuva products.

Passers-by and customers were encouraging as students approached them among the dairy product cases.

Tova, a customer who had just finished her shopping, told the students that she usually bought Tnuva products, but after she put the bag in her shopping cart, she remembered about the boycott and took the selections out.

Other customers returned their Tnuva products to the shelves after the students approached them.

One older woman was happy to join forces with the young people: "I just returned from a vacation in Iceland, the most expensive county there is, and Yoplait yogurt there costs only NIS 2! How can it be that products that are also imported to other countries cost half as much there?" she said.

The students said they chose the Ramat Aviv Mall because it was convenient, but other students carried out similar activities in Ra'anana and in the center of Tel Aviv.

The store manager quickly noticed what was happening and threatened to call the police if they did not leave the store. The students left, but continued to hand out flyers against Tnuva outside the store. There were customers who did not support the boycott, but mostly because they said it would not do any good in the long run and prices would not come down.