Antitrust Czar: Branded Supermarket Displays Must Go

Ultra orthodox people buy food for the upcoming Jewish New Years holiday at the supermarket of Rami Levy. Levy is the owner of a chain of supermarkets called Rami Levy HaShikma Marketing, selling only the strictest kosher products, and is considered to one of the cheapest food stores for ultra orthodox Jews. September 17, 2009. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ???? ???? ???????? ????? ????? ??? ??? ??? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?????
Shopping in a Beitar Ilit supermarket. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel antitrust czar Michal Halpern has given notice to the large food manufacturers that they must remove branded sales displays in supermarkets. They have two weeks to do so, or they will face fines, said Halpern.

At issue are the special displays – supplied by food companies – in supermarkets, where products that are being promoted can be found. Often, the products are on sale, and the products are placed on the branded display – often accompanied by a representative of the company, who gives out samples or coupons to promote the product.

The displays have been tolerated, if not embraced, until now, but according to Yediot Aharonot, the Antitrust Commission decided to get involved because it appeared that several of the large food companies – especially Osem – were using their influence to edge out smaller competitors, and take over shelf space, which is illegal. In response, Halpern has hit back hard, demanding that all the displays be removed from the large supermarket chains by the end of July, and from all stores a week later. Those who fail to comply could face “stiff penalties,” Halpern said.

The list of food companies affected is long, from international brands and food giants like Osem/Nestlé, Strauss, and Tnuva, to smaller local ventures, like Of-Yerushalayim, Sugat, Angel Bakeries and many more. “The supply of these displays, which include clear branding, is a frank attempt by the food companies to exercise influence over the decisions of supermarket managers over placement of products, and to cause the managers to believe that only specific products can be sold on the displays,” the Authority said. “For this reason, we demand that the displays be removed immediately.”