Tue, Jul 31, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Fair Trade Commission says no shortage of flour

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Consumers should not worry about rising flour prices in the near term because major retailers have sufficient stocks, the Fair Trade Commission said yesterday.

The commission checked prices at retail chains over the weekend after the Chinese-language United Daily News reported on Saturday that some wholesalers were hoarding flour. The report fanned speculation that the flour prices may go up again in coming months.

"The hypermarkets said they have no plans to increase prices of flour now," the commission said in a statement yesterday.

Supplies remains stable and the retailers have inventories ranging from 20 days to one month, it said.

The public should not panic, the commission said in the statement.

The wholesale price of a 22kg bag of flour rose NT$90 (US$2.70) earlier this year to around NT$400. Traders say the price could rise to NT$500 a bag next year.

Investigators checked prices and supplies at hypermarkets, including Carrefour, RT-Mart (大潤發) and Far Eastern Geant (愛買), as well as supermarkets such as Wellcome, Matsusei and those operated by Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Co (台北農產運銷公司).

The commission also launched a large-scale investigation yesterday into flour manufacturers and wholesalers to find out what sparked the rumors of a price hike.

It stressed that increased prices due to rising costs or supply and demand inbalance are a natural market mechanism response.

The commission said it would keep an eye on suppliers and retailers to see if there has been any price fixing or driving up of prices.

Such practices can incur fines of up to NT$25 million, according to Article 41 of the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法).

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