Leading French supermarket opens in Israel – but will it make a difference?

Are Carrefour’s prices really lower than those of its Israeli competitors?

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A prominent French supermarket chain opened 50 branches in Israel on Tuesday, offering prices that are lower than that of several local competitors.

But considering Israel’s overall high cost of living, are the prices at this new supermarket really enough to provide relief for families struggling with everything from inflation to rapidly increasing dairy prices?

Carrefour, which is headquartered in France, has become a retail industry titan thanks to its low prices and branded non-food items, such as cleaning supplies, toiletries and other household goods.

The company already operates in 50 countries, boasting some 14,000 locations across the globe.

“The launch of Carrefour will increase the competition in the food industry with a large variety of quality products at market-breaking prices, a general low price level giving the customer an innovative shopping experience different from what we are all familiar with. This is huge news for the Israeli consumer,” Uri Kilstein, CEO of Carrefour Israel, said in a media statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was present at the opening of the first branch of Carrefour in Bet Shemesh, posting a video on Twitter and hailing the launch as a “huge achievement for Israel.”

Netanyahu added that the new retail chain, coupled with a recent government decision to adopt EU regulatory standards for a greater number of imported products, would be a boon to consumers.

“Prices will drop, they will come down by dozens of percent for hundreds of products,” Netanyahu said.

However, a breakdown of Carrefour’s Israel prices reveals that the store is significantly more expensive in the Jewish state than in Europe, partially due to kosher certifications for food and other requirements.

While Carrefour is cheaper than local chain Shufersal, its prices are essentially the same as those found at Rami Levi – an Israeli supermarket known for having the most affordable prices in the country.

According to a price chart created by Mako, Rami Levi actually provides better prices than Carrefour on many items. For example, Carrefour offers its own generic branded basmati rice for 8.9 shekels ($2.40), whereas Rami Levi offers the equivalent for 8 shekels ($2.20).

A litre of olive oil, another staple ingredient in most Israeli kitchens, is sold for 34.9 shekels ($9.55) by Carrefour. The same product is available for 26.5 shekels ($7.25) at Rami Levi stores.