Meat price-fix­ing: sup­pli­ers raided

Com­pe­ti­tion au­thor­ity launches search-and-seizure op­er­a­tion as part of on­go­ing probe

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Them­be­lihle Mkhonza them­be­lihle.mkhonza@inl. co.za

COM­PE­TI­TION Com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tors have raided 13 premises owned by seven meat sup­pli­ers in a si­mul­ta­ne­ous search-and-seizure op­er­a­tion that forms part of an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­leged fix­ing of prices and trad­ing con­di­tions in the in­dus­try.

The com­mis­sion is prob­ing al­leged con­tra­ven­tions of the Com­pe­ti­tion Act by Karan Beef, Sparta Foods, Chal­mar Beef, Beef­mas­ter Kim­ber­ley, Mor­gan Beef, Beef­cor and Fab­vleis, which trades as Mid­land Meat, which op­er­ate from Gaut­eng, the Free State and the North­ern Cape.

Sipho Ng­wema, head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the com­mis­sion, said yes­ter­day these meat sup­pli­ers, which were also known as feed­lots, pur­chased weaner calves from farm­ers to bulk-feed them in prepa­ra­tion for slaugh­ter­ing in the pro­duc­tion of beef and also sold beef to whole­sale and re­tail cus­tomers.

Ng­wema said the meat sup­pli­ers were al­leged to have en­tered into an agree­ment and/ or en­gaged in con­certed prac­tices to fix the prices and trad­ing con­di­tions when pur­chas­ing weaner calves from farm­ers.

He said they were also al­leged to have an agree­ment to fix the prices at which they sell meat to whole­sale and re­tail cus­tomers.

“The meat in­dus­try forms an im­por­tant part of the food sec­tor, which is one of the com­mis­sion’s pri­or­ity sec­tors.

“The com­mis­sion re­mains com­mit­ted in its quest to fight col­lu­sion in the food sec­tor as a whole, as higher prices of food af­fect the most vul­ner­a­ble and poor house­holds who spend a dis­pro­por­tion­ately high per­cent­age of their in­come on food,” he pointed out.

Ng­wema em­pha­sised that the search-and-seizure oper­a­tions were con­ducted with due re­gard to the rights of all the af­fected per­sons.

He added that the com­mis­sion had in terms of the Com­pe­ti­tion Act ob­tained searc­hand-seizure war­rants from the Gaut­eng Divi­sion of the High Court in Pre­to­ria, the North­ern Cape Divi­sion in Kim­ber­ley and the Free State Divi­sion in Bloem­fontein.

Arnold Pre­to­rius, the group chief ex­ec­u­tive of Karan Beef, said yes­ter­day they had noth­ing to hide and the com­mis­sion was more than wel­come to look at the com­pany’s doc­u­ments.

“We know that we are not do­ing any­thing il­le­gal. We are quite happy to co-op­er­ate with the com­mis­sion’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said.

Louw van Ree­nen, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Beef­mas­ter, said it was com­mit­ted to full and con­struc­tive en­gage­ment with the com­mis­sion and its in­ves­ti­ga­tion process.

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