Bread ovens stay cold

Bakeries refuse to resume production of subsidized goods

bread biz882 98 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
bread biz882 98
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The majority of bakeries in the country continued their strike on Sunday, refusing to produce price-controlled bread following the government's refusal to raise prices for the subsidized product "The current situation is an absurdity. Lower income population groups are suffering and are dependent on buying more pricy bread because of a power game between the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and the bakeries," said MK Gilad Erdan. "The government needs to subsidize the par, which has been created due to the increase in bread production costs as mills raised flour prices, and urge bakery owners to resume the production of price-controlled breads." Last 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 as mills raised flour prices by 35 percent to 40% in reaction of the sharp rise in flour prices of 30% around the world over the last month, which levied 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% in compensation to the hike in flour prices. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, on Sunday called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai to immediately begin working on a solution to the "bread crisis" facing the country. "In a country that suffers from welfare problems, the current situation is inconceivable," he said in a statement. "We must find an immediate solution to stop the crisis." Yishai has scheduled an emergency meeting with the owners of the major bakeries this morning (Monday) to discuss the situation. Rabbi Metzger also addressed bakers and bakeries, saying that while he understood the problems they were protesting, "you must immediately halt the extreme steps you have taken. Your desire to put pressure on the government by stopping production of subsidized bread is only harming the poorer socioeconomic groups and families [with many children]. There is no moral justification for this - and certainly not in a Jewish state." On Monday afternoon, the Knesset's Economics Committee is convening an urgent discussion on the issue, which was called in by Erdan and MK Moshe Kahlon. Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report