Israeli bakery firms indicted over anti-trust allegations30 August 2012
A clutch of Israeli bakery chains have been issued charge sheets by the Israel Antitrust Authority over accusations that they were collaboratively involved in the price fixing of bread products and anti-competition activities.
National chains including Angel, Berman, Ahdut, Dganit Ein Bar are among the firms that have been summoned to the Jerusalem District Court.
Executives at the bakeries are accused of dividing the customer base equally among hem and collaboratively working to raise the price of plain white bread and challa (a popular braided bread eaten on Jewish holidays). The executives are accused of collusion through a series of clandestine meetings held at various locations across Israel.
Several executives suspected of involvement in the cartel have been arrested since the Israel Antitrust Authority started investigating the allegations in June 2010.
Activists in the country have called on Shalom Simhon, Israel's Trade and Industry Minister to cancel the planned 6.53% increase in the cost of government-regulated white bread. The price rise is the first for several years and though the government says that higher ingredients and fuel costs have forced the decision, the move has attracted criticism from consumer groups.
"The fact that bread can be sold cheaply, combined with the decision to indict three big bakeries, shows that the bakeries’ price was exaggerated and based on a distorted prediction of rising wheat costs worldwide,” said the “Israel is Dear to Us” protest movement in a statement printed in The Times of Israel.
“Abroad, healthy bread made of whole wheat can be bought for a price that is cheaper than the price of plain white bread in Israel."
Israel has been subject to widespread protest against food prices in the past year and consumers boycotted popular products such as cottage cheese last year in a ‘summer of discontent’.
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