Philippine Competition Commission sets probe into ‘onion storage cartel’

March 29, 2019

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol yesterday said  the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) will look into the alleged operation of groups monopolizing cold storage facilities for  onions.

Piñol said  the PCC had already confirmed receipt of their request for assistance.

In its statement, the PCC explained that all of PCC’s actions are directed by its mandate to promote fair market competition, advance consumer welfare, and penalize violators of the Philippine Competition Act.

“As such, the antitrust authority reminds firms that the competition law punishes those engaged in cartels with a fine of P100 to P250 million, and imprisonment of up to seven (7) years,” the PCC said in its statement.

The PCC said it will look into the alleged refusal of storage access to onion farmers in favor of large traders. It will also evaluate if there are business agreements that are anti-competitive or enablers of cartelistic behavior.

According to the PCC, the cold storage facilities form an important part in the value chain to prolong the shelf life of onions after harvest season.Proper storage allows its sale for an extended period or during lean months.

The PCC added that they will specifically examine whether there are competition concerns in the onion industry such as restriction of storage space or price manipulation by cartels, or whether the storage concerns are natural consequences of supply conditions.