Cheese rebellion forces price cut
Published 01/07/2011 | 07:34
In the land of milk and honey, feelings run pretty strong when it comes to the price of cottage cheese.
After more than 105,000 people joined a Facebook group vowing to boycott the product until prices dropped, the Israeli dairy companies that control the cheese market announced they were cutting prices by 25%.
Cottage cheese was recently voted by Israelis to be their most "Israeli" food, surpassing even the region's own falafel. The dairy product can be found in nearly every fridge, and the sudden price increase became a symbol of the rising cost of living in Israel.
The victory was a rare instance of consumers banding together through social media to force powerful companies to reduce the price of a product.
Israel's relatively small size and its tech-savvy and media-aware population enabled the protest to spread quickly. The campaign touched a nerve among Israelis concerned about rising prices and eroding salaries.
Spooked by the outrage, the three main Israeli dairy companies that control the market agreed to lower the price of a 250g container to 5.90 shekels (£1.08) after it had risen to close to 8 shekels (£1.46).
The protest has sparked hope it will spread to petrol, electricity and other food products that also have recently skyrocketed in price. Organisers say they will be moving on to other overpriced products, and consumers have expressed hope the precedent will help them target Israel's pricey property and car markets.
It also has highlighted the power of social media, with some even comparing it to the revolutions elsewhere in the Middle East.
"True, this is not Tahrir Square yet, the cottage cheese rebellion did not require us to take any real action, just to press 'like' and skip the cottage cheese shelf in the supermarket," columnist Ben Caspit wrote in the Maariv daily, referring to the Egyptian uprising. "This was inaction, not action, and it demanded no real sacrifice."
Still, Israeli newspapers on Thursday lauded the success, carrying headlines that declared: "We Won," ''Cottage Cheese Victory" and "The Israel Consumer Has Had His Say".