The Fair Trade Commission said Thursday that it has fined Zespri International Ltd. 427 million won ($375,615) for hindering the domestic sale of kiwis from Chile.
The antitrust regulator found that Zespri signed a sales contract with E-Mart on condition that the nation’s No. 1 supermarket chain would not sell cheaper Chilean kiwis.
The exclusive exporter of kiwis from New Zealand also inked a similar deal with Lotte Mart, the No. 3 market player, in April.
Zespri may have been concerned about price competition with Chilean kiwis whose prices are being lowered in phases following the free trade pact signed in 2004, the FTC explained.
“After cheaper Chilean kiwis were withdrawn from E-Mart outlets in 2010, the price of Zespri’s green fruit increased 13 percent from 614 won in 2009 to 696 won this year on average,” said a FTC official.
The domestic kiwi market reached 127.4 billion won last year, with Zespri being the market leader with 56.9 percent market share.
“This is the first case related to the nation’s free trade pact with a foreign country. The distribution of cheaper Chilean kiwis at major retail chains would prompt price competition within the industry,” said the official.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org