Meat price-fixing: suppliers raided
Competition authority launches search-and-seizure operation as part of ongoing probe
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.