The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) issued an infringement decision against distributors for engaging in anti-competitive agreements to coordinate the amount and timing of price increases, and agreeing not to compete for each other’s customers.
The chicken distributors include Gold Chic Poultry Supply and its related company, Hua Kun Food Industry; Hy-fresh Industries; Kee Song Food Corporation; Ng Ai Food Industries; Sinmah Poultry Processing; Toh Thye San Farm; companies owned by the Lee Say Group, including Lee Say Poultry Industrial; Hup Heng Poultry Industries; Prestige Fortune; Leong Hup Food and its holding company, ES Food International; Tong Huat Group-owned Tong Huat Poultry Processing Factory; and Ban Hong Poultry.
The fresh chicken distributors import live chickens from farms in Malaysia and slaughter them in Singapore. The distributors then sell the fresh chicken products to customers such as supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, wet market stalls and hawker stalls.
In March 2014, CCCS commenced its investigations into the fresh chicken distribution industry after it received information from a secret complainant.
Its investigations revealed that, from at least September 2007 to August 2014, the parties had engaged in discussions on prices and had also expressly coordinated the amount and timing of price increases of certain fresh chicken products sold in Singapore.
CCCS said that the “collusion” restricted competition in the market and likely contributed to price increases of certain fresh chicken products in Singapore. By agreeing not to compete for each other’s customers, they also restricted the choices available to customers.
Aside from financial penalties, CCCS has directed the distributors to provide a written undertaking that they will refrain from using The Poultry Merchants’ Association, Singapore, of which they are all members, or any other industry association as a platform or front for anti-competitive activities.
Toh Han Li, chief executive of CCCS, said: “Price-fixing and market sharing are considered some of the most harmful types of anti-competitive conduct. Such conduct is particularly harmful when the products affected are widely consumed in Singapore, such as in this case.
“CCCS will continue to take strong enforcement action to ensure that cartels do not negatively impact Singapore markets and harm businesses and consumers."