Millions of eggs arriving in Israel to replenish critical Passover staple

The government announced last week that it will subsidize the import of  eggs, which have been missing from most supermarkets for the last two weeks.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israelis will hopefully heave a sigh of relief before Passover as millions of eggs arrived in Ashdod Port Sunday from Spain and other ships and planes are on their way with tens of millions more.

The government announced last week that it will subsidize the import of this basic food staple, which has been missing from most supermarkets for the last two weeks in the run-up to the week-long holiday that begins Wednesday night.

The Agriculture Ministry said that it has requested that shipping companies change their routes for faster delivery and load double the number of eggs they would usually carry in their refrigerated containers.

The Finance Ministry also agreed to allocate a special budget to bring in eggs in an unprecedented, and more expensive, way — via cargo planes — due to the extreme need. According to the Israel Financial Insider site, 20 million eggs are expected to arrive by air from several European countries in the coming days. Besides Spain, other possible sources are the Netherlands, Ukraine, and Portugal, said the report.

Egg consumption in Israel shoots up 20 percent for Passover, as families embark on a whirlwind of baking, frying and cooking the special foods which are traditionally eaten just this one time of year. An egg is also one of the five items that must be included on the traditional Seder plate, a symbolic dish that is part of the festive meal marking the Jews’ Exodus from Egyptian slavery over 3,000 years ago.

It is probably the second-most necessary item in the Passover pantry after unleavened bread, or matzoh.

Stories have abounded in social media of what has been taking place due to consumer desperation as the holiday approaches, such as stores that have eggs raising their prices, or conditioning their purchase on the customer spending NIS 50 or more on other items. A video that went viral showed people stealing eggs from the back of a truck while the driver was unloading goods for a supermarket.

Tips are also being posted on how to get eggs on the black market, from sources that are not under the supervision of the proper authorities. This could lead to an additional health concern, as the eggs may not have been refrigerated properly and could be infected with salmonella or other diseases. More patients could then be added to the burden of a health-care system already struggling with thousands of cases of the coronavirus pandemic.