One of the largest supermarket chains in Israel – Shufersal – and one of the country’s largest food production companies, Strauss Foods, together are under investigation by the government for alleged price fixing.
Offices of the two companies were raided Tuesday by officials from Israel’s Competition Authority, Globes reported. The investigators confiscated numerous documents and questioned company executives, among them Shufersal CEO Itzik Abercohen.
The move came in response to retailer and supplier complaints about unnecessary price hikes, according to a statement by the Competition Authority.
“The Competition Authority has opened an investigation and is examining the suspicion of breach of the Competition Law by a number of suppliers and retail chains following recent events,” the statement said. “Since the investigation is only at the beginning, no further details can be disclosed at this stage.”
Israel’s Food Law of 2014 – enacted in response to then-social protests in the country — regulates how suppliers and retailers in the food industry can set prices and conduct business, with specific limitations on their actions.
Other food chains are also being scrutinized, the Competition Authority said.
Shufersal said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) on Tuesday, “In the search warrant presented to the company it was stated that the search is in connection with suspicion of a cartel. . . At the time of this notification, the company has no additional information about the substance of the investigation and its circumstances.”
Strauss, a publicly traded company, said little else in its own statement to the TASE.
“The company wishes to give notice that this morning, 9 November 2021, that representatives of the Competition Authority carried out a search and collected materials at the company’s offices in connection with suspicion of offenses under the Economic Competition Law, and that company employees were questioned, among them senior company officers,” the Strauss statement said.