December 16, 2013

Strong Shekel Poses Problem for Israeli Manufacturers

TEL AVIV — The Shekel, Israel’s currency, is too strong these days, certainly against the dollar. It is of concern to Israeli food manufacturers who export to the US and elsewhere. Some manufacturers are even openly discussing the possibility of reigning in production costs by producing overseas, according to the prestigious business publication, Globes. "Beneath the surface, there is intense movement to relocate production lines from Israel to other places around the world. No one is going to announce these measures with public celebrations, and no one is proud of moving production to China, Bulgaria, or anywhere else in the world. Everyone is doing it quietly,” Ran Tuttnauer, owner of Tuttnauer, the Beit Shemesh based manufacturer of medical sterilization equipment told “Globes.” 

According to Tuttnauer, manufacturing abroad is one of the solutions that manufacturers are employing in response to the continuing downward trend in the shekel-dollar exchange rate, which dropped below NIS 3.5/$. Kibbutz Industry Association CEO, Udi Ornstein said that the dollar problem is “the most painful problem in the Israeli export industry.” The Kibbutz Industries Association, which includes many food manufacturers, recently published a forecast, saying that exports from the Kibbutz Industries will total NIS 13.7 billion this year, down 6.5% from last year. This is due mostly to changes in the exchange rate, which harmed the shekel value.