Israel's food market is entering a new competitive phase - for the first time, independent supermarket chains are establishing a joint company in order to enhance their competitive strength against the large supermarket chains.

A report in Yediot Ahronot notes that Rami Levi, Victory, Haviv, Metro, Hyper-Rama, Super-Dosh, and Maman are joining forces. Each company has about NIS2bn (US$526.3m) in sales per year, and together they operate 31 branches throughout the country.

The seven chains plan to establish a joint company with Diplomat Cosmetics, the Israeli agent for Proctor & Gamble. Under this plan, the new company will establish a private brand, Hamutag, to be distributed by all the chains, related to a wide range of food products as well.