supermarket pricing - Daniel Tchetchik - 08012012
An employee marking prices on cereals at a Mega supermarket branch. Photo by Daniel Tchetchik
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Industry sources have revealed that the proposed bill to drop retailers' obligation to mark all products with price tags is actually sponsored by supermarket chain Mega (Blue Square ), with the backing of its chief competitor, Super-Sol.

Senior government sources say the proposal, which received the minister's approval last week, would serve the grocery stores' interests at consumers' expense.

The two supermarket giants are being represented by lobbying firm Goren Amir, which is working through the Israeli Chambers of Commerce, confirmed sources over the weekend. No other chambers of commerce members were party to the initiative, said the sources. The chambers of commerce stated in response that it did not initiate the bill, but that it supports it.

Mega stated that it would respect all state legislation; Super-Sol denied any connection to the bill.

The bill, which was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation last week, would let retailers not mark label products with prices so long as the price is displayed on the shelf. Currently, all products must bear price tags.

The government has raised similar proposals in the past.

The latest proposal was put forward by MKs Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu ), Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud ), Yulia Shamalov Berkovich and Yoel Hasson (both Kadima ). It was softened in the wake of objections by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Justice Ministry.

Ten ministers voted in favor, while only two objected - Industry and Trade Minister Shalom Simhon and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman. The bill has also passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset.

The bill states that for now, the change will be a pilot. However, it does not state the parameters for deeming the pilot a success.

The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry stated in response to the bill that the law forcing retailers to mark every product with a price tag is one of consumers' major gains of the last decade. It enables consumers to compare prices at any point, including once they've brought the products home.

"It's not clear whether the bill, which is doing away with a major advantage consumers have, is proposing an equally effective alternative," the ministry said in a statement to the cabinet.