Knesset Bill Forces Food Giants to Move Over

YERUSHALAYIM -

The big food companies will have to move over and make room on supermarket shelves for smaller competitors, if a bill approved by 

the Joint Economics-Finance Committee passes its second and third Knesset plenum readings, Globes reported on Wednesday.

After a marathon 12-hour debate, the committee for the Promotion of Competition in the Food Sector, chaired by MK Avishay Braverman (Labor), voted for the legislation to restrict companies with an annual turnover of more than NIS 1 billion to no more than 50% of the space at supermarket chains. The bill was authored by Braverman and MK Yitzchak Vaknin (Shas).

The bill also contains a transparency section, which requires supermarket chains to report prices of products in real time, in order to facilitate price comparisons.

It will also empower the Antitrust Authority to prevent the big companies from opening new branches or even order the sale of branches in areas where there is no local competition.

The main restrictions on the large food companies and suppliers will come into effect on January 15, 2015.

In earlier sessions, the committee endorsed a series of market reform measures, including: a ban on payments for allocating sale space to large suppliers, banned large suppliers and retailers from intervening in the placing of products, preventing them from setting recommended retail prices.

Braverman announced that he intends to establish a subcommittee to monitor implementation of the law, will nominate MK Rabbi Yakov Asher (United Torah Judaism) to head it.