JERUSALEM (JTA) — Kosher certification costs the Israeli economy some $770 million a year, the Finance Ministry estimated.
The certification adds about 5 percent to the cost of producing food, according to a preliminary report by the ministry.
Up to $152 million of the cost is due to the near monopoly on kosher supervision by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, which imposes stringent requirements beyond those made outside of Israel, the report said.
Some more stringent haredi Orthodox supervisions are offered in addition to, but not in place of, the Chief Rabbinate’s approval.
“This monopoly requires thousands of jobs and its practices raise the cost of living in Israel as any exclusive provider in the production process would,” the report said.
Kosher supervision of fresh produce costs the economy another $250 million, according to the report, including major loses for tithing of fields and orchards.
Kosher slaughter and maintaining supervisors at supermarkets and grocery stores are among the highest costs.
In a discussion of the report Tuesday by the Knesset Economics Committee, its chairman, Eitan Cabel, called for allowing businesses to choose supervision services to provide competition.