Fresh evidence leads to review of Singapore chicken suppliers' price-fixing case

THE 13 chicken suppliers who were roasted by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) for price fixing are seeking leniency after new evidence turned up.

In March last year, the 13 distributors, which supply more than 90 per cent of fresh chicken products here, were accused of engaging in anti-competitive agreements to coordinate price increases. They also agreed not to compete for one another's customers in the market for the supply of fresh chicken products in Singapore.

The CCS said that by doing this, the parties restricted the choices available to customers. The coordinated price increases also reduced customer choice as it provided few options for customers to switch distributors. The non-aggression pact and price increases also created a less competitive landscape.

All these impacted a significantly large number of distributors and customers, including supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, wet market stalls and hawker stalls, and ultimately consumers of these chicken products.

Following the proposed infringement decision (PID) that the commission issued against the parties in March 2016, new evidence involving allegations of fact and admissions were brought to the competition watchdog's attention in the parties' written and oral representations to the PID.

The CCS has thus notified the parties in September 2016 that further investigations would be conducted. Subsequently, the CCS also received applications by the parties for lenient treatment.

The CCS on Thursday issued a supplementary PID against the chicken distributors to address the new evidence.

The parties have six weeks to make their representations to the CCS, after which it will make its final decision, said the commission.