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Major supermarkets and grocery stores across the country ran short of price-controlled bread on Thursday, as bakeries stopped producing low-priced breads in protest of the refusal by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor to raise bread prices.
"No one, no supermarket chain or grocery store received price-controlled bread on Thursday and Friday will be the same, that's what everyone has been told," said one grocery shop owner in Tel Aviv. "We have already run out of our stock of price-controlled bread loaves. We have seen customers come into the store who normally don't come to shop here looking for price-controlled bread."
Similarly, all AM:PM local supermarkets were left with very of the five regulated breads, which include loaves of dark or white bread, halla or yeast-based baked goods, and loaves of sliced and wrapped white bread.
On Wednesday, the major bakeries, including Angel Bakery, Davidovich Bakery & Sons Ltd., Berman's and the Alumot Bakery in Holon decided to halt the production of price-controlled breads beginning Thursday after mills raised flour prices by 35 percent to 40% in reaction of the sharp 30% rise in flour prices around the world over the last month, levying higher production costs on bakeries. Bakery owners have been demanding that the government raise the amount that can be charged for price-controlled breads, which make up 17% of all breads sold, by 12.5% to compensate for the hike in flour prices.
"There will be no bread left on the shelves by Sunday," said one Alumot Bakery employee.
In reaction to the subsidized bread strike, the Supersol chain is offering its customers a 15% discount on all other non-regulated breads sold in all its stores.
Yishai said on Thursday that although he was aware of the plight of the bakery owners, he could not enforce an increase in the price of regulated bread unless the proposal that would compensate lower income population groups for an increase in bread prices, was approved. On Wednesday, Yishai, presented the government with a proposal that would provide 616,000 households, which are among benefit seekers, with an annual compensation of NIS 22.5 million.
"I know the bakery owners and they have a social consciousness and, therefore, I call upon them to resume the production of these breads," said Yishai. "Bakery owners need to ask themselves whether they want to create a situation in which regulated bread becomes more expensive but there is no one, who can afford to buy it."
Yoni Teitz contributed to this report.