The entry of Cadbury Schweppes into the Israeli confectionery market is to be examined by the country's Antitrust Authorities amid speculation that the local market leader, Elite, attempted to block sales of the UK company's products.
Reports in the Israeli press suggest that Elite is being investigated by the authorities on the grounds that it allegedly tried to stall Cadbury's Israeli rollout by imposing sanctions on independent distributors who elected to sell Cadbury's brands as well as its own.
Elite has declined to comment on the rumours, which surfaced after Cadbury announced its intention to target the Israeli market in December last year.
The UK company said that its Trebor Bassett unit was to form a joint venture with the Israeli firm Carmit Caramel Industries in a direct bid to tackle Elite's dominance of the market, of which it has a 70 per cent share.
Cadbury said it aimed to garner a 25 per cent share of the Israeli sugar confectionery market, and around 12 per cent of the chocolate market, by the end of 2004. Cadbury is reported to be investing around €4.4 million in the Israeli venture.
Cadbury does not produce its brands in Israeli as yet, although the deal with Carmit could make this a possibility in the future. But this also means it is all the more dependent on importers and wholesalers to help it gaina foothold in the market - a factor which Elite is trying to exploit, according to the reports.