Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Wednesday called on the public to boycott Israel’s largest supermarket chain after it announced it would be raising prices.
The Shufersal chain announced earlier Wednesday it will bump up the prices of thousands of products by 4 percent on average, the latest in a wave of unpopular price hikes.
The statement by the chain said the move was delayed for several months despite a rise in the cost of raw materials. The company stressed it would absorb the majority of the increases in supplier rates in order to contain the extent of increases in consumer prices. However, the statement read, more price hikes are expected in the near future.
The statement came out at the same time as a report that found Shufersal doubled its profits in the third fiscal quarter of 2012. According to the Israeli business daily Globes, “operating profit from retail operations rose 34% to NIS 95 million for the third quarter from NIS 71 million for the corresponding quarter” last year.
Yishia said consumer action was needed to send a message to the chain.
“The paradox of the Shufersal statement this morning — record profits, on the one hand, and the announcement of a price hike on the other — can be resolved only through an across-the-board consumer boycott, which would convey the message that the secular, the religious, the ultra-Orthodox, the Arabs and other sectors of the population will not remain indifferent to the ongoing trend of making huge profits at their expense,” he said.
In recent months tax hikes, as well as the rising price of fuel and energy, have driven up the price of basic staples, resulting in a steep drop in the public’s buying power. The trend was met with widespread criticism over the rising cost of living in Israel.
Last week, Tnuva, Israel’s largest manufacturer of dairy foodstuffs, announced a rise in the consumer prices of its products. The company said the move was necessitated by a 9-percent increase in the cost of unpasteurized milk, the main basic ingredient of dairy products.