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A new consumer group has threatened to picket and boycott the two major supermarket chains, Super-Sol and Blue Square (Mega), if price increases recently announced by manufacturers and distributors are not cancelled.

"Chains that cooperate in price increases could find themselves the focus of an ongoing 'shopper's strike' and/or boycott of products, whose prices are not justified," wrote Yisrael Yekara Lanu (Israel Is 'Dear' To Us ) in a letter to Super-Sol and Mega's CEOs. The group said it would join forces with social protest movements and take its case to regulatory agencies and a Knesset consumer's lobby being formed, and asked that the supermarkets respond to its demands by May 12.

The organization alleged that supermarket chains were colluding with manufacturers that were raising their prices on consumer products. Noting that there had been no change in the shekel exchange rate, the group charged that the increases were being carried out "on the assumption that the Israeli consumer is a loyal sucker," and pointed the finger at Super-Sol and Mega for what it called their "decisive contribution to the problem."

However, Super-Sol CEO Itzik Abercohen said he had publicly called on manufacturers to act in the "spirit of the times" and not hike prices. "Super-Sol is not working to increase prices and does not intend to lead such an effort despite the sharp rise in [its own costs]," Abercohen said

Mega said it was doing whatever the company could to halt price increases, adding that its own private brands had not gone up in price despite the higher cost of raw materials.