31 January 2003
The Food Price Monitoring Committee has introduced a toll-free number in a bid to encourage consumers to report acts of predatory food pricing in the food production and supply sector.
The toll-free number – 0800 203 216 – administered by the offices of the National Agricultural Marketing Council, is operational between 8am and 4pm on weekdays. An e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, is also in place for this purpose.
The Committee was established to investigate unjustified food price hikes and seeks to protect consumers from other irregular practices.
Government instituted the strong eight-member committee – headed by Professor Johan Kirsten from the University of Pretoria and deputy chairperson Fikile Mazibuko of the University of Zululand – to ensure transparency around retail prices and their relation to actual costs.
Other members include Josephine Hlophe-Nhlapo (Congress of SA Trade Unions), Lumkile Mondi (Transnet), Nonia Rampomane (National Consumer Forum) and Professors Johann Potgieter, Sbu Nkomo and Herman van Schalkwyk.
According to Kirsten, consumers form an integral part of the probe, hence it is important that they become actively involved. “We want the public to be the eyes of the Food Price Monitoring Committee,” he said.
The Committee’s terms of reference include monitoring the pricing of basic foodstuffs, investigating any sharp or unjustified price increases, determining the competitiveness of production operations, investigating price formation mechanisms within the value chain of basic foodstuffs, and recommending required productivity improvements.
It is also expected to investigate collusive, discriminatory or unfair business practices in the basic food value chain, investigate and make recommendations on market inefficiencies and distortions, and investigate incidents of predatory pricing and monopolistic tendencies