On April 5, the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU) launched an investigation into anticompetitive concerted actions on the primary sugar market against Astarta Group and Radekhiv Sugar LLC (Lviv region), the committee said on its website on Monday.
The state regulator said that over the past few months it had studied the situation when these companies, which together occupy a significant share of 40% to influence the Ukrainian beet sugar market, in September-November 2020, similarly increased wholesale selling prices for sugar by an average of 48%.
The committee said that it sees no objective grounds for such a price increase, since there was no sugar deficit in Ukraine at that time, taking into account the transitional reserves, import volumes and a decrease in domestic consumption. The committee said that the production of this product in Ukraine last year decreased by 22.3% compared to 2019, the yield of sugar beet decreased by 7.8%, its sugar content by 1.7%, and its sown area by 2.7%.
It is also specified that Astarta Group and Radekhiv Sugar similarly limited competition in the market, having received the opportunity to raise prices above the competitive level, although they are in different conditions of economic activity.
The AMCU said, citing data from the London Stock Exchange, that in September-November 2020, world prices for beet sugar did not grow as sharply as in Ukraine, and there were no significant fluctuations in foreign exchange markets or an increase in taxation.
“As part of the investigation, in addition to Astarta and Radekhiv Sugar, the committee is studying the actions of other manufacturers in this market. I emphasize that the AMCU will not limit itself to checking possible non-competitive actions in the sugar market. In the near future, we will investigate the situation in the markets of other socially important products, which have risen in price recently,” the press service said, citing head of committee Olha Pischanska.
Astarta is a vertically integrated agro-industrial holding operating in eight regions of Ukraine. It includes eight sugar factories, agricultural enterprises with a land bank of 243,000 hectares and dairy farms with 25,000 cows, seven elevators, a biogas complex and a soybean processing plant in Poltava region (Globino Processing Plant LLC).
Radekhiv Sugar LLC is one of the largest sugar beet producers in Ukraine with production facilities in Radekhiv (Lviv region), Chortkiv, Khorostkiv, Kozova and Zbarazh (all located in Ternopil region).
According to the data on the company’s website, Radekhiv Sugar is part of the Pfeifer & Langen Investments group of companies (Poland), which, except for a Ukrainian asset, also owns five sugar factories in Germany, shares in enterprises in Poland, Romania, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.