The Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel: “The decision to extend the shelf life of meat will increase the supply of chilled meat and it will lead to a reduction in the need for cattle imports. In actual fact, already at the present time, in light of the opening of imports from European countries, we can see that there has already been a significant drop in the quantity of cattle imports from far-off destinations, such as Australia”
The Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel, added that: “The extension of the validity of the shelf life of chilled meat will bring about an increase in the competition in the industry and this will lead to a drop in the prices of fresh meat for all of the citizens of Israel, while protecting public health and while providing an alternative that is expected to reduce cattle imports. This move has been made after intensive work was devoted by the professional staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, and it forms part of a broad plan for the reduction of the regulatory burden that will bring about a savings of approximately NIS 185 million for the Israeli economy per year”
The Minister of Agriculture has reached understandings with the Minister of Health, with respect to the granting of an opportunity, while maintaining compliance with the conditions, for the extension of the validity of the maximum shelf life of chilled meat that is kept in a vacuum, from 45 days to 85 days. In this manner, Israel joins a long list of developed countries, such as France, Canada and Belgium, all of which act in accordance with this policy method.
The move opens up, for the very first time, maritime imports of chilled meat (i.e., not frozen) from countries such as the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and South Africa. To date, it has only been possible to import frozen meat from these countries, by maritime transportation, due to the restrictions of the maximum validity of the shelf life, because a validity of 45 days did not allow the transportation of meat from far-off destinations. The chilled meat will be kept in accordance with the very same stringent standards of advanced countries, some of which even allow a shelf life that is longer, amounting to 120 days. This move will give rise to an increase in competition and a reduction in prices for consumers, by making it more worthwhile for importers to import chilled meat.
This move constitutes a direct continuation of the “Report on the Examination of the Cattle Industry,” which was published by the Israel Antitrust Authority in 2016, and which showed that there is a need to increase the competition in the cattle industry in Israel. In addition, this move joins additional moves which have been taken within the fresh meat import sector, including: the authorization of the veterinary supervision system in countries that are approved to export to Israel, in accordance with the stringent requirements of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, as is in effect in other developed countries.
Already at the present time, in view of the opening of the imports from European countries, it can be seen that there has been a significant drop in the prices of chilled meat, ranging from 7% to 17%, despite an increase in the demand for chilled meat. This drop expresses a significant savings in the household expenditure on meat in Israel in an annual scope of approximately NIS 170 million.