Economy and Finance Ministries Warn Against Significant Price Hikes

In recent news, the Economy, Industry, and Finance ministries of the State of Israel have sent letters of warning to the owners of large food retailers and companies in the country. In these letters, the ministries urged the heads to reconsider their most recent decision to increase the prices of food products in the coming months. The ministries took to citing the economic hardships being experienced by the people of the country due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. They also pointed out that some of the food companies in the country had received executive bonuses and financial information worth millions of dollars in the year 2021, just to ensure that the prices were kept stable. 

The letters stated that the government expected that the food retailers raising their prices act responsibly and re-evaluate the decision they made to raise the prices. It also pointed out that the cost of living in the Jewish state is already high and has been further exacerbated by the deadly disease taking over the country. The ministries further asserted that they will be monitoring the prices of food products offered to the average consumer in Israel. Moreover, they will be taking appropriate steps with respect to national responsibility to ensure the maintenance of a competitive and fair economy. These letters were signed by Orna Barbivai, the Economy Minister, and Avigdor Liberman, the Finance Minister. 

In a joint statement later released, the two ministers also called out the food corporations, deeming their actions to be offensive and cynical towards the people of Israel. The missives were addressed to seven cleaning supplies and food retailers in the country, which also included the Strauss Group, Sano, and Osem. Osem is owned by Nestle, a Swiss company. The letter sent to Giora Bardea, the CEO and President of the Strauss Group, indicated that the company is one of the largest food conglomerates in the country, with dip, snacks, salad, and dairy products. 

The ministers pointed out that the company recorded significant profits in the year 2021 and strong margins in the Jewish state, as compared to any other country across the globe that sells its goods. In their letters, the ministers also talked about how the Israeli economy was still going strong but that the global health crisis was far from over. They highlighted that there were various businesses in the country, especially small ones, that had not yet recovered from the pandemic. Moreover, some of these businesses are especially at a disadvantage due to the Omicron wave that has swept the country off its feet once again. 

The government of Israel, according to the ministries, is doing everything in its power to ensure that all businesses are able to survive the effects and aftereffects of this ongoing wave. However, they pointed out that the officials cannot do this on their own and require cooperation from all the major players currently in the market. The people of the country are also not reacting well to the decision of price hikes announced by food companies. Various Osem products were boycotted when the company, one of the biggest producers of food products in Israel, stated that it would be raising its prices from 3% to 7%. 

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