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Companies

Four firms fined Sh21.6m by competition watchdog

 Del Monte shop
A Del Monte shop in Thika. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU 

Juice maker Del Monte Kenya has been fined Sh776,025 by the competition watchdog for misrepresenting the quality of its products.

In a notice in the latest Kenya Gazette, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) stated it had entered into a settlement agreement with the firm after it was found to have contravened section 55 (a) (i) of the Competition Act.

A person flouts the law if he “falsely represents that goods are of a particular standard, quality, value, grade, composition, style or model or have had a particular history or particular previous use.”

In the Friday notice, CAK’s Director-General Wang’ombe Kariuki said Del Monte wished to resolve the matter with the regulator amicably.

In a statement on Saturday, Del Monte managing director said the firm had only omitted a word on one of its packaging products, which it corrected.

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“Del Monte would like to clarify that the Competition Authority’s investigations were in relation to a missing wording on the packaging of one of our products,” said Del Monte managing director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas.

Azam juice maker, Bakhresa Food Products, was also fined Sh47,711 for a similar infringement on composition of their juices.

COLLUSION

Two other firms — paints manufacturer Basco Products and microlender Getbucks Kenya were also fined for various infringements of the Competition Act. The fines on all the companies totalled Sh21.6 million.

Basco paid the largest fine of Sh20.799 million. The firm was being investigated for an alleged collusive conduct between certain manufacturers and distributors of paint products pursuant to section 31 of the Competition Act.

The notice did not specify what activities, save for pointing out collusive conduct which falls under restrictive trade practices defined under section 21.

The offence is defined as “agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings, decisions by undertakings or concerted practices by undertakings which have as their object or effect the prevention, distortion or lessening of competition in trade in any goods or services in Kenya, or a part of Kenya, are prohibited, unless they are exempt in accordance with the provisions in the Act.”

Restrictive trade practices are construed to distort or lessen completion to the detriment of consumers who are unable to access competitive rates, innovation is stifled and access is limited.

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