The commission launched the probe in Tshwane on Thursday, urging the public to participate in it through public hearings lasting for at least 18 months, after it begins on 31 March.
FILE: Consumers were hit hard by high food prices, due to the effects of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, load shedding here at home, as well as high inflation. Picture: rido/123rf.com
JOHANNESBURG – The Competition Commission urged consumers to participate in its inquiry into how the prices of fresh produce items were determined.
The commission launched a probe into the price of fruit and vegetables in Tshwane on Thursday.
The investigation, starting on 31 March, is expected to hold public hearings for at least 18 months.
Consumers were hit hard by high food prices, due to the effects of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, load shedding as well as high inflation.
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While prices fluctuated depending on factors that affect farmers and growers everywhere – including weather, labour and transport – commissioner Doris Tshepe said there could be something more menacing regarding the excessive price tags on fresh produce in South Africa.
“What we saw even in the price increases, some of them cannot just be explained by what is happening in the market. This process has to be transparent, it has to be fair, and requires all the parties to participate.”
Sounding a note of caution, the chairperson of the inquiry Hardin Rathisusu said that if fresh food prices rose, this would affect the poorest in society the most.
READ: Fresh produce price hikes have hit poor households – Competition Commission
“Prices are quite volatile in South Africa, but we don’t really know what’s causing that. Retailers are a very important part of this inquiry.”
The main fruits and vegetables that would form part of its investigation include apples, citrus, bananas, pears, table grapes as well as potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes and spinach.