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Barkat to shame food companies over wartime price hikes

Economy Minister Nir Barkat's ultimatum was due to expire on Friday.

Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat arrives for a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Dec. 24, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat arrives for a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Dec. 24, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat on Wednesday issued an ultimatum to food corporations that have raised prices since Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attacks, warning them to cancel the increase or risk being blacklisted.

The ultimatum was due to expire on Friday morning. Companies that fail to comply “will be [publicly] blacklisted and will face regulatory shaming, as well as swift legislative moves” against them, said Barkat.

In a letter addressed to a list of leading food manufacturing companies, Barkat accused the companies of “spitting in the face of the consumers who are loyal to you and enrich your coffers and your pockets.”

Corporations that have substantially increased prices include major players like Tnuva, Osem and Strauss. The latter stands accused of raising the prices of some of its items by as much as 25% last month.

Shortly after issuing the ultimatum on Wednesday afternoon, Barkat announced that Shamir Salads, a leading Israeli producer of dips and salads, had decided to reverse price hikes on its products.

“I expect the rest of the food companies to understand the magnitude of this moment and show solidarity towards the Israeli public in wartime,” tweeted the minister.

“I repeat the 72-hour ultimatum to cancel the price increases that I announced this morning,” he added.

Hamas terrorists murdered at least 1,200 people in a massive terror attack launched from Gaza on Oct. 7, which included the firing of thousands of rockets, the infiltration of the Jewish state by terrorist forces and the abduction of more than 240 hostages.

“The war is having significant economic consequences, both on real economic activity and on the financial markets,” the Bank of Israel said on Jan. 1. “There is a great amount of uncertainty with regard to the expected severity and duration of the war, which is in turn affecting the extent of the impact on activity.”

Since the beginning of the war, almost 215,000 Israelis have applied for unemployment benefits, including thousands who have been placed on forced sick leave, the Davar news site reported in mid-January. In the first two weeks of 2024, 15,281 citizens filed for unemployment.

In October, the Jewish state’s jobless rate—which takes into account what is expected to be a temporary loss of work—spiked to 9.6%, up from 3.6% in the previous month. According to the most recent data, 6.1% of Israelis are temporarily or permanently jobless.

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