South Korea Slaps Chicken Cartel With €129M Fine

South Korea’s antitrust regulator said Wednesday it had decided to impose a combined fine of 175.8 billion won ($141.4 million) on 15 poultry-processing companies. The accused enterprises have been charged with collusion in a price-fixing scheme.

Sixteen companies, including industry leader Harim and Orpum, colluded to fix prices and supplies of chickens on 45 occasions between November 2005 and July 2017, according to the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC).

The companies held a combined share of more than 77 percent in the market, giving the cartel ample power to manipulate prices without fear of the remaining competitors. The companies’ 12-year-long pirice fixing agreement has been confirmed by the KFTC’s analysis as leading to a hike in the price of chickens for human consumption, directly hurting customers’ pockets.

Of the 16 firms, the KFTC has decided to fine 15 firms as one company has applied for a court receivership. Harim will be slapped with the largest fine of 40.6 billion won, followed by 25.6 billion won for Orpum and 25 billion won for Maniker Co.

The commission also plans to file a complaint with the prosecution against five firms, including Orpum and HanGang Food.

The KFTC said it will take stern actions with a zero tolerance stance against companies whose price collusion sparks a rise in prices of items closely related to people’s lives.

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.