- The Competition Tribunal has dismissed a case of alleged cartel conduct by I&J.
- There was a lack of evidence provided to show competition in market segments were adversely affected.
- The tribunal will provide the full order and reasons on its website in due course.
The Competition Tribunal has dismissed a case of alleged cartel conduct by frozen foods company Irvin & Johnson Limited (I&J) due to a lack of evidence.
This follows a matter brought by the Competition Commission, which accused I&J and beef processing company Karan Beef of participating in a cartel and allegedly dividing markets in the supply of processed beef products. These include beef burger patties, steak sizzlers, crumbed beef steaklets, viennas and boerewors, according to a statement issued by the tribunal.
"I&J was charged along with Karan Beef following a 2017 Commission investigation which emanated from another separate investigation into Karan Beef and several other feedlots," the statement read.
Karan Beef had settled with the commission in September 2018. It agreed to pay a fine of R2.7 million.
However, I&J chose to litigate the matter at the tribunal and hearings with witness testimony were held.
According to an excerpt from the tribunal's order, "no evidence" was provided by the commission to show that the agreements between the two companies adversely impacted competition in any segment of the market, for example increased prices to customers or improved volumes for I&J owned brands.
"The conduct of the two respondents [I&J and Karan Beef] also did not accord with that usually associated with cartelists such as secretive arrangements or meetings.
"On the contrary, at some point of the first two years the products were jointly branded, with the Karan logo depicted on the I&J product. Hence, customers and the public alike were aware of this," the excerpt read.
The tribunal will make a full copy of its order and reasons for its decision available on its website in due course.
- Compiled by Lameez Omarjee