Knesset C'tee battles popcorn price-gouging at movies, events

"Popcorn is not made of gold and Coca-Cola sold at stadiums isn't holy water," says Kulanu MK.

February 17, 2016 17:46
1 minute read.
Cinema City Jerusalem

Cinema City Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Israeli movie-goers and sports fans may have some financial relief coming their way.

The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee approved a bill Sunday to lower the prices of popcorn and other concessions at movie theaters and sporting events.

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If approved by the Knesset, the bill sponsored by Kulanu MK Tali Ploskov would close loopholes in a section of the 1981 consumer protection law known as the “popcorn law” that prevented consumers from bringing their own food and beverages to movie theaters, sporting events, and similar gatherings.

Though the law was intended to allow consumers to bring their own food, business owners have been getting around the provision by getting an outside vendor to sell the food.

Because the law targets business owners that sell food, the vendor loophole has allowed the business- owners to claim it does not apply to them, according to Ploskov.

“A family with children who goes to the movie theater to see a movie and wants to buy their kids popcorn has to spend some NIS 200, and if they want to save money and bring food from home, the loophole in the law can prevent that if the seller is a vendor, and the family members again become a captive market,” she said.

“Popcorn is not made of gold and Coca-Cola sold at stadiums isn’t holy water,” she added.

Ehud Peleg, who heads the Israel Consumer Council, noted that in the 2014 legislation intended to solve the popcorn problem, the Knesset debated between tactics of allowing in outside food or installing price controls.

When they chose the latter, event owners used the loophole to get out of trouble once customer complaints started rolling in.

The hope is that customers will start bringing their own snacks, which will force vendors to lower their prices.

Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) said that steps had to be taken to ensure that wily business- owners wouldn’t be able to find other loopholes that would require further amendments

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