Supermarkets Boycott Products from Occupied Territories
THE HAGUE, 23/07/13 - Supermarket chains Aldi, Hoogvliet and Jumbo are no longer selling products from Jewish settlements in areas occupied by Israel. The companies have confirmed the boycott in a telephone roundup by Trouw newspaper.
Aldi and Hoogvliet are demanding that their suppliers no longer offer anything from the settlements. And Jumbo recently asked its suppliers for formal confirmation that products labelled as from ‘Israel’ really do come from that country and not from the occupied territories.
A debate has been going on for some time in the groceries sector on the question of how supermarkets should deal with products from the controversial settlements. While Aldi, Hoogvliet and Jumbo are taking the lead, other supermarkets are waiting to see which way the wind blows.
Market leader Albert Heijn, for example, is awaiting recommendations from the sector association for supermarkets, the Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel (CBL). The CBL in turn is awaiting recommendations by Ministers Henk Kamp (Economic Affairs) and Frans Timmermans (Foreign Affairs). And they in turn are looking to the European Union, as they prefer to handle the thorny question within the EU context.
The unclearness is further enhanced by the fact that the government gives conflicting signals, says Trouw. In March, Economic Affairs published a recommendation on ‘origin labelling’, that products from the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights should no longer be allowed to carry the label 'Made in Israel'. The ban covered products including fruit, vegetables, wine, olive oil, fish and cosmetics.
But the advice was later removed from the ministry's website. The conservative (VVD) coalition party had difficulty with the political motivation, NRC Handelsblad newspaper reported at the time. The party wanted to leave the question to the market, but the market is actually praying for a directive from The Hague.
The cabinet now appears to have hived the matter off on Brussels, but gives no further information. Meanwhile, Dutch supermarkets still do not know where they are going. “We have already sent Minister Kamp a letter twice,” sighs CBL spokeswoman Miranda Boer. "The first time was a year ago. In the latest letter, two months ago, we urged speed. The sooner we hear something, the better.”