SEJONG, Oct 23 – South Korea’s antitrust watchdog has launched a probe into suspicions that major instant noodle and snack makers were involved in fixing prices, government sources said Thursday.
“A probe is underway as there are suspicions that some companies had conspired to hike prices of their products at a certain level,” a Fair Trade Commission (FTC) official said. “An on-spot inspection has already been completed and we will keep monitoring to secure specific evidence going forward.”
He said that the evidence at this moment is all “circumstantial.” He did not name companies currently being probed.
Suspicions of price fixing have arisen as prices of processed food products are increasing despite a fall in the costs of raw materials over the past few years.
Government data showed that the international prices of corn, wheat and soybeans have dropped 47.1 percent, 20.3 percent and 19.4 percent since January 2012.
Prices of processed food prices, however, rose 4.6 percent and 3 percent in 2012 and 2013, when the country’s consumer prices rose only 2.2 percent and 1.3 percent.