FTC set to look into unusual pork storage and auction activities
By Joy Lee ,The China Post
March 11, 2014, 12:09 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Information regarding irregular amounts of pork stocked at four cold storage plants as well as three auctions that conducted abnormal trade of pork was passed on to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) for further investigation, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.
COA Deputy Minister Wang Cheng-teng (王政騰) said that more information and statistics will also be sent to the FTC in the future in order to find out what caused pork prices to reach a 10-year high of NT$82.31 per kilogram at the end of the auctions on March 4.
According to Wang, the information that was sent to the FTC included three abnormal trading statistics at three auctions in Tainan and Kaohsiung and reports on four cold storage plants that may have been hoarding pork.
The COA said that one of the cold storage plants had about 1,500 tons of pork in stock, which is not a regular amount, especially after the Chinese New Year holidays have already passed.
Wang said that if the FTC confirms that illegal actions occurred, the FTC has the right to impose punishment.
According to the COA, pork sellers should cooperate with the government's policy and stop stocking up on pork. If imported pork arrives, the COA said, pork prices will drop immediately, which would make it hard for domestic pork sellers to sell the pork they have saved up.
A COA official said that when COA chief Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) inspected the meat market in Tainan last Friday, he discovered that all the pigs on auction were all over 130 kilograms, and many pork sellers demanded Chen and the media leave the market.
Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director Huang Kuo-ching (黃國青) said that normally pigs are sold when they weigh over 120 kilograms, and they might even be sold before reaching 120 kilograms during times of pork shortages.
Huang said that based on the fact that the pigs at the auction were all over 130 kilograms, most pork sellers intentionally held off on selling the pigs in order to make higher profits.
Following the deaths of over 210,000 swine as a result of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED), pork prices have soared in the southern parts of Taiwan, resulting in rumors of illegal price markups and attempted monopolizations and leading the COA to criticize the price increases as both unreasonable and absurd.