Recent Knesset approval for reforms aimed at lowering the price of food could not have come at a better time, as data from the the Israel Farmers Union reveals that mark-ups on fruits and vegetables this year have been as high as 300%.
"This week, retail chains broke all records in the mark-up on prices charged for fruits and vegetables -- a mark-up that amounts to hundreds of percentage points," said Israel Farmers Union president Dov Amitai, attacking supermarkets for the high prices they charge consumers compared to wholesale prices.
According to the financial site Globes, the union gave numerous examples of egregiously high mark-ups: green beans sold at NIS 25-27 per kilogram, compared to the wholesale price of NIS 8 per kilogram. There was a 180% mark-up on apples, squash bought for NIS 2 per kilo and sold for NIS 10 per kilo and sweet potatoes bought for NIS 3 and sold for NIS 11.
"Israeli consumers are paying a high price for our produce," says Amitai. "Prices for fruit rose 60% in Israel in 2005-11, compared with an average rise of 17% in the EU. Prices for vegetables rose by 29% in Israel over the same period, compared with 20% in the EU."
For 2011, the average mark-up on fruits and vegetable in Israel was 51.2%. In June of this year, the mark-up on bananas reached 154% and the mark-up on carrots and bell peppers was 90%.
Recently, the Israeli government unanimously agreed to adopt reforms presented by the Kedmi committee, the government panel tasked with reporting on competition and prices in the food sector.
One of the main reforms that will be adopted seeks to increase competition between supermarkets, all in an effort to help the average consumer.