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Taiwan dairy companies lose appeal against fines
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-08 07:14 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Three major milk producers lost an appeal against a total of NT$30 million (US$996,000) in fines for increasing prices simultaneously, the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled Wednesday.

Further appeals were still possible, reports said. The government’s Fair Trade Commission issued the fines for price fixing against Uni-President Enterprises Corporation, Wei Chuan Foods Corporation and Kuang Chuan Dairy Corporation on October 19, 2011. The three companies hold a market share of 80 percent, reports said.

Concerted action in raising prices of similar products simultaneously is banned under the Fair Trade Act. The court supported the FTC’s argument that the three companies had colluded in working out the increases.

Wei Chuan was fined NT$12 million (US$398,000), Uni-President NT$10 million (US$332,000) and Kuang Chuan NT$8 million (US$265,000).

The differences in fines were the result of the companies’ varying market shares and revenues but were also determined by the level of cooperation the investigation received, the FTC said.

The Cabinet-level body looked into the price rises at a time when a wide range of food products became more expensive, infuriating consumers angry about the government’s apparent lack of response.

The investigation into the milk pricing practices started after coffee chains raised their prices in 2011 and blamed their higher costs on the more expensive dairy products supplied by the three large groups.

It was not immediately known whether the corporations would file appeals against the latest verdict.

Just a few months ago, the major dairy companies had to fight off magazine allegations that their products contained residues of a wide variety of chemical substances, from antibiotics to contraceptives. Tests by the Council of Agriculture rebutted the allegations.

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