The cost of food in Israel has increased more rapidly than anywhere in Europe, according to a new Knesset report.
The study, released Tuesday by the Knesset Research and Information Center, found that between 2005 and 2013 food price increases far outpaced increases in European nations, rising 16 percent in Israel, while Europe saw only a 1.8 percent increase for the same period.
For most food items, Israelis can now expect to pay 25 percent more than their Europeans peers. For some items, such as dairy products and soft drinks, Israelis pay much more, with costs averaging 40 percent higher than similar products in Europe.
The rapid increase and high cost of food and consumer items was one of the sparks that fueled the social protests of 2011. In response to the protestors’ concerns, the Kedmi Committee was formed by the Knesset to get at the root of rising price tags.
The Kedmi Committee discovered that once food prices were deregulated in 2005, prices began to soar, in part because two companies, Mega and Shupersol, own more than half of the Israeli grocery market, allowing them to set their own prices and maximize profits. According to State Comptroller Yosef Shapira, the lack of regulations may have increased profits for corporations, but have hurt Israeli consumers who are suffering under the weight of hefty price tags.
“The ministries of Finance, Industry, Agriculture and the entire government must rectify the wrongs and maintain real control on the prices of essential foodstuffs by defining the basic food package and closely monitoring its costs,” he wrote in a report calling for the Knesset to step in to stop price inflation.
The just-released report will be presented to the Knesset’s Food Committee, which plans to discuss if tighter regulation on food pricing in Israel is warranted.