The astronomical growth in the prices of garlic and ginger has prompted the National Consumer Commission (NCC) to launch an investigation into by various suppliers of the two food products.
The demand for garlic and ginger shot up ever since claims that they could help with Covid-19 symptoms surfaced even though there was no evidence that eating garlic can protect people from contracting the virus according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a statement on Wednesday, the NCC noted with concern public outcry regarding the price of the two food products and announced its investigation into the matter.
Food Lovers Market, Spar, Pick n Pay, Shoprite Group, Boxer Superstores, Cambridge Foods and Woolworths are the suppliers that will be investigated by the NCC.
In July 2020, Food Lover’s Market was found by the Competition Commission to have contravened the Competition Act after it admitted to charging excessive prices for “essential” raw ginger sold at its Westgate store.
The Competition Commission had also launched an investigation into the excessive pricing of garlic and ginger last month.
Meanwhile, Acting NCCC Commissioner Thezi Mabuza revealed that the investigation was initiated under the Section 71 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and if found guilty for excessive pricing on the products, the suppliers could be fined up to R1 million.
“The purpose of the CPA is, amongst others, to reduce and ameliorate any disadvantages experienced in accessing any supply of goods or services by consumers.
“Our investigation is not limited to these suppliers. We urge consumers throughout the country to monitor the market and where they suspect excessive price increase, they must file complaints with the Commission.
“These allegations, if proven true, would constitute a violation of Regulation 350 and an imposition fine of up to R1,000,000 or up to 10% of a supplier’s annual turnover or even imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.
Consumers were further urged to lodge complaints by contacting the NCC at 080-001-4880 or 012-428-7000.
Additional reporting from Makhosandile Zulu and Sandisiwe Mbhele