Israel puts price control on food products to curb soaring prices

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-12-31 12:16:48

Israeli government decided on Monday to intervene in dairy products prices, in a move that will cut the huge profits of Israel's largest dairies, making it more affordable for consumers, ministers said in a joint press conference.

Israel's Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir signed an order to impose price control on soft white cheese and whipping cream.

As a result, the prices of these products would go down by 20 percent, effective from this week.

Prices of dairy products that are already under government control, like milk, butter and hard cheese, will be lowered by 1.1 percent.

Israel's highly centralized food market is blamed for the soaring food prices, which in the past eight years have risen six- fold higher than in the EU countries.

An investigation by a ministerial committee on food prices found that Israel's three largest dairy companies earn "abnormal profits" from soft white cheese and cream sales.

Some 90 percents of the market of soft white cheeses, which is among the most popular food products in this country, are controlled by only three dairies, the committee found. Tnuva, Israel's largest food conglomerate, controls about 80 percent of the cream market, according to the committee.

"Price control is no solution for market failure in the long run," Lapid said in the press conference in Jerusalem. "But we will not hesitate to use it whenever a company will use uncompetitive market to make profit at the expense of consumers," he said, adding that he will continue with the move to lower prices in other areas.

The recent move by the ministers is a consequence of a consumer boycott on Cottage cheese that had broken on the summer of 2011, and led to an across the board protest against Israel's high cost of living.

In his general election campaign earlier this year, Lapid vowed to tackle the soaring prices in order to "ease the burden" of the middle class. He won a sweeping success, making his faction the second largest party in the Knesset (parliament).

Posted in: Mid-East

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