CTC investigates chicks, stock feed distributors

By Nobleman Runyanga

Following the crippling shortages of day old chicks on the market which was triggered by an avian flu outbreak in July 2017, the Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC) has opened an investigation into the trade restrictive trade practices by some traders who are bundling the sale of day old chicks to customers with that of stock feeds. The Commission announced the development in a notice issued this week.

“(T)he (Commission) has commenced an investigation into an alleged restrictive practice into the distribution of stock feeds, as defined in Section 2 of the (Competition) Act,” indicated the Commission in the notice.

The CTC explained that the decision to investigate the matter was in response to the market’s concerns of conditional selling of day old chicks on one buying stock feed by some distributors.

“It is alleged that distributors of day old chicks are making the sale of chicks conditional upon one buying a particular number of stock feed bags,” the Commission stated.

The Commission further highlighted how the alleged trade malpractice may contravene the Competition Act.

“Prima facie, the practice by distributors of day old chicks and stock feeds may constitute a restrictive practice in terms of the Act, with the likely effect of restricting the entrance and expansion of players into the stock feed market, preventing or retarding the expansion of the existing stock feed market and or limiting the commodity or service available due to tied or conditional selling,” said the CTC in the notice.

The competition and tariff body, however, clarified that the commencement of the investigation was not a confirmation of the contravention of the Act on the part of the suspected players and that only the results of the inquiry would determine whether or not they were foul of the law.

The investigation comes over a year after the disruption of the supplies of day old chick, table eggs and chicken on the market by major suppliers such as Irvine’s and Sable Chickens following the avian flu which was contained in February this year. This has created shortages on the market, that have seen some unscrupulous traders taking advantage of the shortages to unfairly drive stock feed sales.