Milk importers collude to fix prices

(Vietnam News) -- Milk importers colluded to raise prices of dairy products twice this year, while world prices were falling, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said in its latest report released this week.

Consumers buy milk at a Big C supermarket in Hanoi (File photo: Vietnam News)

The report, which reviewed the country's dairy market in the first seven months, said dairy importers increased their imported product prices three times during the period, attributing increases to a world price hike.

However the ministry found that on two of the three occasions world prices had fallen.

For example, importers simultaneously increased the price of powdered milk on the domestic market from March 10, a time when the cost of imported milk materials decreased and the country's dairy import tax remained unchanged.

The ministry did not comment on domestic producers' prices, their products were condemned for poor quality and label violations.

The report said that though dairy products were on the list of sensitive commodities, whose prices were under State supervision, they remained out of control.

It forecast that the volatility of the dairy market in the first seven months of the year would continue for the next few months.

Relevant agencies must find the causes of milk price rises to introduce control measures, the ministry said.

In a move to stabilise the dairy market, the Ministry of Finance required dairy firms to register their prices of milk for infants under the age of six from October 1. Infant milk makes up a significant portion of the dairy market in Viet Nam.

Ministry price administration department deputy director Nguyen Anh Tuan said a fair price would be established and vendors who went above it would either have to pay the difference or lose their business licences.

However, the announcement seems to have prompted some producers to increase their prices by up to 10 per cent before the October 1 deadline. Producer Abbot has raised prices 7 per cent on three of its products while Anmum brand put its price up 10 per cent.

The price of Abbot's Ensure Gold powdered milk for adults has also jumped by 8 per cent to VND470,000 (US$24.70) per 900g tin.

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