China is investigating global packaging giant Tetra Pak for “abusing” its dominant market role, following earlier probes into milk powder producers and drug makers.
The State Administration for Industry and Commerce is organizing its local agencies in 20 provinces and cities to look into possible misuse by Tetra Pak of its market dominance, said Zhang Mao, head of the regulator.
The watchdog is investigating 23 cases of monopoly violations, of which 12 cases have already led to punitive sanctions, according to the transcript of his speech posted on the regulator’s website yesterday.
The administration scrutinized 18,400 unfair competition cases during the first half of this year, involving 1.26 billion yuan (US$203.8 million).
“The news is no surprise. It was only a matter of time before the administration launched a probe over Tetra Pak in China,” Liu Chunquan, senior partner of the Shanghai Panocean Law Firm, who also took part in drafting the implementation details of the anti-monopoly law, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.
“We can’t say if Tetra Pak has been interfering with free competition in China until the regulator releases the investigation results. But look at the packaging of all kinds of beverages, the company sure has an enormous market share.”
Tetra Pak entered the Chinese market in 1972, and has factories in cities, including Beijing, Foshan, Kunshan and Hohhot, and a research and development center in Shanghai. Its clients include China’s biggest milk and beverage producers, including China Mengniu Dairy and Uni-President China Holdings.
The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top planning agency, earlier this week launched an investigation into the pricing of infant formula sold by Nestle’s Wyeth and other foreign and local companies, including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co.
It is also examining the costs and prices of drugmakers to improve the pricing system for medicines in the country.