South Korean regulators have imposed “heavy sanctions” on the country’s largest soy sauce maker, Sempio Foods, after finding it restricted competition by only allowing distributors and sales agents to sell product to clients “designated by it in advance”.
Between 2008 and 2014, Sempio “demarcated the business territory of each distributor”, only allowing sales agents to act within their designated territory, the Republic of Korea Fair Trade Commission said in its ruling.
“When a distributor or sales agent breached the restrictive policy on business territories or clients, Sempio defined such breach as an ‘abusive sale’, gave disadvantages, and kept on tracking and monitoring activities of such distributor or sales agent,” the regulator said.
“As a result of Sempio’s implementation of the strict, restrictive policy on clients, competitions in pricing and services among distributors and between distributors and sales agents were radically blocked.”
The Commission has prohibited Sempio from using “unlawful restrictions” on sales territories and fined the group KRW763m (US$706,884).