The Shmooze

Israelis Drink More Alcohol, Eat More American Food

By Nathan Jeffay

  • Print
  • Share Share

We may be in the midst of an economic crisis, but it seems there’s at least one good business to be in. Food imports to Israel are growing out of proportion to the overall growth of the Israeli food market.

The Israeli food market grew by 2.3% in 2008, to $14.4 billion. But food imports grew by an enormous 25%, to $1.8 billion, says a report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

So what is going on here? Well part of the picture is the weak dollar. Agricultural and food imports from the US to Israel increased by 33% to $628 million

But it can’t only be a question of currency rates, because the Euro has strengthened significantly and yet imports of agricultural and food products from the EU increased 23% to $1.7 billion in 2008.

In short, there seem to be several factors coming together, some good, some bad. As the report points out, the growth in imports reflects overall economic growth in Israel, which is a result of Israel weathering the economic crisis relatively well. It also reflects the fact that the Israeli food market is becoming more complex — though Israeli consumers have a penchant for sugary and fatty foods, the market for health foods, organic foods, wholegrain foods and the like is growing, meaning that imported products in the healthy niche are selling well. Israelis today, says the report, are “quality oriented and are ready to pay a premium for quality food products.”

To be viewed with more ambivalence is the fact that alcohol consumption is growing by 5% to 15% a year. “The driving force behind this growth is the one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who are known for their relatively high alcohol consumption,” claims the report, which is written with the objective of highlighting trade opportunities for Americans. “In addition, in recent years the consumption of alcohol by youngsters has increased significantly. Israel is among the top six nations in the world in terms of vodka consumption, valued at over $83 million per year.”

While the report implies that the rising imports are good news as it means more opportunities for importers, some in Israel will view evidence of rising imports as alarming. Traditionally Israel imports more than 90% of its cereals, 70%-80% of its fish and beef, and half of its pulses, oilseeds and nuts. Some will regard the latest import figures as a wake-up call saying that Israel needs to become more self-sufficient.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Vodka, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Euro

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.