May 23, 2023
Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat is demanding that 15 giant food companies disclose their financial statements within 21 days, including itemized production costs and profit figures, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Letters were sent from the Economy Ministry ordering that the largest manufacturers and importers hand over comprehensive data on their production costs, including demands to present financial and pricing reports.
The letters were sent in accordance with Chapter VII of the Law on the Supervision of Prices and Products, sections 6 and 31, which deals with examining the costs and profits of big manufacturers and under which the importers and manufacturers are required to submit a full breakdown of their production costs and profits within 21 days.
The 15 companies that received the letters are: Diplomat, Osem, Shastowitz, Sogat, Hogla Kimberly the Central Bottling Company, Strauss, Willi Food, Sano, Jafora Tabori, Wissotzky Tea, Neto Trade, Abbott and the Gori Company.
"We will fight an uncompromising war against monopolies and cartels that unjustly oppress the public. The giant companies got used to milking the Israeli public like a cow. My directive is to act with all the tools at our disposal, no matter how serious they may be, to fight the deep failures in the food market in Israel," Barkat said.
"We clearly see that the producers and importers are taking advantage of the high centralization and lack of competition in the markets to raise prices. We will not hesitate to use this kind of mechanism to fight entities that ignore the public and raise prices unfairly. While the citizens of Israel are moaning, the monopolies are raising prices at a shocking rate, and this is at a time when the prices of inputs and the prices of maritime transportation are constantly decreasing. The celebration is over," he added.
In response, the Manufacturers' Association of Israel put out a statement saying: "The most predatory monopoly in Israel is the Israeli government, which makes the cost of living and the cost of doing business extraordinary compared to any country in the world. The government is the one that increases and continues to increase the prices of apartments, cars, fuel, electricity, water, property tax and more, which also harms the disposable income of the country's residents and also makes the products and services in Israel more expensive."
The Association plans to publish a series of international comparisons of the government costs in Israel compared to the world and it will help the public understand who is oppressing them and how. "The government's party at the expense of the citizens is over," they added.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also announced on Sunday that a public committee will be established to dismantle monopolies and food giants. "The citizens of Israel deserve to receive more and pay less," Smotrich said.
Could something like this come to the US?
Earlier this year, we saw a few of the largest meat processors get fined for price hikes. The four companies accused are: JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill, and National Beef Inc.
Just last month, JBS said it will pay $25 million to commercial beef purchasers that accused the meat-packing company of conspiring with industry competitors to restrict market supply to keep prices high. Last year, the meatpacking company agreed to pay $52.5 million to grocers and other plaintiffs.
Chicken processors Pilgrim's Pride (owned by Tyson Foods) and Perdue were also accused of price fixing this year. The two agreed to pay a $35 million settlement.
Perdue agreed to pay $11 million, and Pilgrim’s Pride said it will pay $6.5 million. Tyson Foods had agreement to pay $10.5 million in the suit last October.
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