For instance, the average price for meat products in Belarus increased by 1.73% in November 2018 compared to the previous month, while the price for some pork cuts grew by more than 4%.
Speaking during a press conference in Minsk, Vladimir Koltovich, Belarus Antimonopoly Minister said that, in November, Belarus’ Antimonopoly Ministry had reached an agreement with major meat producers and processors that they would not allow further price increases on the domestic market for at least the next few months.
If meat producers did not honour the agreement, the state could intervene and introduce a control on meat prices in the domestic market, Koltovich added.
The Ministry started an antimonopoly investigation on the market after receiving reports from some consumers about the sharp increase in prices for poultry products. In the first half of 2018, the price per kg of broiler meat in Belarus jumped by 28%. Preliminary research conducted by the Ministry earlier in 2018 showed there were no clear reasons for the increase in prices.
The average price for a broiler carcase reached BYN4.15 (US$1.92). Belarus customers are price-sensitive when it comes to food products, since the average wage in the country is BYN944 ($470), according to official information.
“There were no objective factors for that kind of growth. The exchange rate [of the national currency] has not moved, energy prices have stayed flat, and domestic meat producers have no other reasons to increase prices,” the Ministry said in a statement earlier in 2018.
In July 2018, the Ministry also reported that the seven biggest poultry producers increased prices for their products “sharply and almost immediately”, while all other companies “followed their lead”. This situation had all the signs of the price-fixing arrangement, claimed the Ministry.
Pork prices have also increased across the country throughout 2018, but this was mainly the result of rallying prices on the broiler meat market, as these two segments of the meat market “are tightly linked to each other”, according to the Ministry.
The Belarus Antimonopoly Ministry previously promised to finish its investigation into a possible price-fixing agreement on the market by the end of 2018. However, by press time, the Ministry had not provided any details to GlobalMeatNews on the results of the investigation and whether or not the Government still planned to introduce state control over meat prices.
Ivan Vezhnovets, deputy antimonopoly minister, told local news outlet Tut in late December 2018 that some of the increase in poultry prices could be due to the poor 2018 grain harvest in Belarus and resulting high prices for feed. Vezhnovets added that the antimonopoly investigation was still ongoing.