Religion Magazine

"Food is Expensive in Israel Because of Shabbos"

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Is our food more expensive because of Shabbos?
According to Gadi Lessin, the President of the giant Israeli food-producer, Strauss, the answer is yes. Lessin, speaking at a panel for finding ways to lower food prices during a Food-Tech conference, said that the way must be found to allow their factories to continue working on Shabbos without desecrating the Shabbos, such as by using non-Jewish workers on Shabbos. Doing so, Lessin says, would lower food costs by 8% and increase workers productivity. Add to that the need to drop VAT on food, by 10%, according to Lessin's suggestion, and food will get significantly cheaper.
According to Lessin, the food producers have met with Minister of Economic Affairs and Commerce Naftali Bennet and raised this issue with him. They pointed to factories all around the world that continue to produce on Shabbos while still finding ways to bear mehadrin kosher certification.
(source: The Marker and Ladaat)
According to lessin, Bennet was interested in the proposition. Lessin pointed to companies like Coca Cola that has factories around the world the produce on Shabbos and bear mehadrin kashrut ccertification, but he also said Strauss has 40 factories around the world producing on Shabbos with mehadrin certification, such as their Sabra line which is 51% owned by Strauss.
Can it be done? I don't know. Perhaps, but it won't be an easy fight.
Many of the factories Lessin points to are owned and controlled by non-Jews. Others, such as those owned by Strauss and other Israeli companies, are still largely owned by non-Jews (49% of Sabra is owned by PepsiCo) and the administration of the factories is probably non-Jewish as well, for the most part, and that very well might make a difference than local Israeli production which is completely owned and administered by Jews. There might be a way to do it, but it is not likely it will happen without a major fight..
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