Elite chocolates - Adi Dovrat Meseritz - February 2012
Elite chocolates for sale. Photo by Adi Dovrat Meseritz
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The country's chocolate manufacturers are responsible for the increasing prices of their products, according to the Knesset Research and Information Center.

"The prices at which the chocolate and sweets manufacturers sell their goods to the supermarkets increased more than the prices that supermarkets charge consumers. They also increased at a higher rate than the consumer price index," states the report.

The report was prepared in advance of a Knesset Economics Committee discussion on the high cost of living today, which was scheduled after consumers called for a boycott of Strauss because of its high prices.

The latest round of boycott calls began after a consumer photographed Strauss chocolate bars selling in New Jersey for half of what they cost in Israel.

The price of chocolates and candies to consumers rose by 22.9% between 2005 and January this year, while the consumer price index increased by only 18.4% over that period, the Knesset report found.

But the price that manufacturers charge wholesalers increased even more sharply: by 26.9%, over that period.

Furthermore, the price rises since 2010 came because manufacturers increased their prices, according the data. Between 2006 and 2009, the price to consumers increased at a pace similar to that of the price to wholesalers. However, starting in 2010, the wholesale price increased by a sharp 8.4%, while consumers felt only a 2.7% hike.

The figures in the Knesset report are based on Central Bureau of Statistics data.

The report notes that Elite was declared a monopoly in the local chocolate industry in 1988, which subjects it to regulation by the Antitrust Authority. Elite is a Strauss brand.

"The figures show that the market for chocolate bars and sweet snacks is not competitive, and thus prices may be higher in Israel than in other markets," states the report. (See story, Page 8.)

The report also notes that the Antitrust Authority had recommended trying Strauss group executives in 2004 for antitrust violations.