Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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5 Tishrei 5760 - September 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Lulov Cartel Liable to Raise Prices of Lulovim and Haddasim

by Betzalel Kahn

A number of lulov merchants have filed a complaint with the Commercial Restrictions Authority of the Ministry of Trade which deals with illegal monopolies, against a number of large merchants. The complainants claim that a number of merchants have banded together in order to acquire the majority of the lulovim grown in El Arish and in other places, and have also gained control of the haddasim market in Israel. Inquiries by Yated Ne'eman indicate that most sellers of lulovim will abide by the guidelines of the rabbonim and not sell them for more than NIS 60.

Las year, Yated Ne'eman disclosed the fact that a number large merchants in the lulov field formed a cartel and acquired the majority of the lulovim grown in El-Arish for the purpose of selling them at high prices and earning huge sums of money amounting to millions of shekels. These merchants wanted to sell lulovim at four times the regular going rate wholesale, at an increase in the retail price of an average of one hundred percent.

The main loser is the consumer, who will be forced to pay huge sums for the lulovim when 40% of those acquired by wholesalers in the market are posul. The lulovim involved here are the mass market lulovim of which hundreds of thousands are sold. They are not the premium types like "Deri" which is the subject of a feature article in the current issue.

Former chairman of the Finance Committee, MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz, appealed last year to the Commercial Restrictions Authority and an investigation was launched. The investigation lasted for a number of weeks, during which Rabbi Ravitz reached a compromise with the large merchants who had formed the cartel. The compromise included the setting of a uniform price for all lulovim. This occurred a number of days before Succos. It is not known what were the results of the investigation.

This year, the very same merchants banded together once again and bought all of the lulovim from El Arish much earlier in the year, while they were still on the trees. In addition, they gained control of the haddasim market and bought most of the Nov, Hameiri and Sussia haddasim as well as others. In the meantime, in order to prevent an increase in the prices of the arba minim, a complaint has been filed with the Commercial Restrictions Authority.

Yated Ne'eman has learned that the Authority has opened an investigation; however, the status of the investigation is unknown.

A number of large merchants in the field claim that the merchants who gained control of the lulov market are not religious and have criminal records. Arab merchants are also involved.

The cartel on the lulov and haddasim market will result in a 100% price rise. Lulovim will be sold to wholesalers at a starting price of 15 shekels, instead of the old prices of 3-4 shekels. The lulovim will be sold in closed bundles like in the past, a situation in which 40% of the lulovim in these bundles are posul.

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