A bill to impose price controls on baby food will be discussed Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. The proposed legislation, introduced by Likud MK Miri Regev, would empower a committee of cabinet members to set maximum prices on baby foods, including baby formula.
Baby food is not a discretionary product, Regev wrote to the committee, but rather a basic necessity. Nonetheless, products such as baby formula get no government subsidy, she said, pointing out that price controls on baby formula were lifted in 1999 after the Materna brand lost its monopoly status in the local market. Still, she said, the market lacks sufficient competition.
“Evidence of that is that two companies, Materna and Similac, each control almost half of the market. In addition, Materna has a monopoly on ‘lemehadrin’ kosher certification,” she wrote, a reference to products with the most rigorous kashrut standards. “It’s therefore no wonder,” she added, “that a small container [of formula] can cost NIS 40 and a big one can cost NIS 80.”
In seeking approval of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for her bill, Regev is in effect seeking the support of the coalition for the proposed law.