Tag Archive: Competition Commission


It is a matter of urgency that we break up these cartels that have South African consumers, especially the poorest of the poor, in a vice grip through control of our two staple foods ? maize and bread.

South Africans eat about 28 billion loaves of bread and, on average, about 100kg of maize and maize-related products each year ? wheat and maize are the country?s staple foods. Only a few companies control the wheat and maize value chains ? the journey taken from the farmer?s fields to the mill, the supermarket shelf and then to our tables each day.

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Suid-Afrikaners eet jaarliks sowat 28 biljoen brode en gemiddeld verbruik elke persoon jaarliks 100kg mielies en mielie-verwante produkte ? koring en mielies is die land se stapelvoedsel. Die koring- en mielie waardekettings word deur slegs ?n paar maatskappye beheer. Dit sluit die voorsieningsketting vanaf die boer se lande na die meule, die winkelrak tot by ons tafels elke dag, in.

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Abantu baseNingizimu Afrika badla cishe amalofu esinkwa angu 28bhiliyoni, kanti ukulinganisa, cishe ngu 100kg wombila kanye nemikhiqizo eyenziwe ngempumphu kunyaka nonyaka ? ukolo kanye nombila ukudla okudliwa kakhulu kwemihla ngemihla ezweni. Zinkampani ezimbalwa ezilawula

GM Maize Cartels Gorge Profits on SA’s Poor, Eye African Markets

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released its new research report titled ‘GM Maize: Lessons For Africa-Cartels, Collusion And Control Of South Africa’s Staple Food’ showing how a select group of companies, including Tiger Brands, Pioneer and Premier Foods who have previously fixed the price of bread and maize meal, commandeer the entire maize value chain and continue to squeeze the poorest South Africans. The ACB has recently shown that the entire maize meal market is saturated with GM maize.

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The report shows that the South African government, through the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is the largest investor in Tiger Brands, and that over 50% of the company’s shares are held outside South Africa. Pioneer Foods’ largest shareholder is Zeder, the agribusiness investment arm of PSG Konsult Group, a private financial services company. Premier Foods is 80% owned by private equity firm Braite, listed on the Euro MTF market in Luxemburg but domiciled in Malta, both jurisdictions being notorious tax havens. ‘These ownership patterns have increased the distance between food producers and consumers, and are lucrative avenues for capital accumulation by actors far removed from these firms’ locales.’ Said Mariam Mayet, Director

GM Maize: lessons for Africa – Cartels collusion and control of South Africa’s staple food

This is a briefing about power and control in our food system, focusing chiefly on South Africa’s staple food, maize. It shows how a select group of companies, including Tiger Brands, Pioneer and Premier Foods commandeer the entire maize value chain and continue to squeeze the poorest South Africans. These corporate giants are now glancing covetously to the vast African market north of the Limpopo. Experiences from South Africa should serve as stark warnings.

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Press statement.


The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released results of tests conducted on 7 baby formulas and cereals, by an independent and accredited GM testing laboratory. The results reveal that Purity baby cereals contain extremely high levels of GM content whereas Nestl?’s infant formulas and cereal indicate that Nestle appears to be going GM free. Aspen’s infant formulas also indicate GM avoidance. Shockingly, comparisons also reveal that Purity’s GM baby cereals cost 250% more than non-GM cereals, exploding the myth that GM free food is an expensive and impractical luxury.


Purity’s Cream of Maize tested positive as containing 56.25% GM maize; and Purity’s Purity Baby First tested positive as containing 71.47% GM maize.

Neither of these baby foods were labeled as containing products derived from genetically modified maize. This is not the first time that Purity’s Cream of Maize cereal tested positive for GM. In 2008, consumer watchdog SAFeAGE revealed the product to contain more than 24% GM maize.

“Why has Purity not labeled its products? By failing to label, Purity has acted disingenuously and deprived parents of crucial information about their baby’s nutrition. Adult consumers in SA do not want to eat GM

The Pioneer/Pannar seed merger: deepening structural inequalities in South Africa


In this briefing, we deal with the Pioneer/Pannar seed merger, outlining the evidence led by the ACB in opposing the merger, what is at stake for South Africa if the merger is approved and the extent to which the merger will deepen structural imbalances in the South African economy.

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Smallholder farmers and consumers to pay the price for corporate seed merger

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) learned today that US multi-national seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred has been granted permission by the Competition Appeal Court, to acquire the nation’s last major independent seed company, Pannar seed. The ACB was an intervening party, opposing the merger in the public interest.

In granting the merger, the court has not only ensured the further consolidation of private ownership over our seed systems, but crucially, it has sanctioned the concentration of germplasm in the hands of a small number of multinational corporations. This will exacerbate the existing situation whereby farmers are becoming irreversibly disconnected from breeding processes and converted into mere consumers of what they originally collectively produced.

A key issue in the merger is Pioneer’s fervent desire to take control of locally adapted germplasm that Pannar holds – germplasm that existed and was used in Africa long before Pioneer or Pannar existed.

One of the conditions of the merger is a R20 million fund to “increase the productivity, knowledge and welfare of small-scale and developing farmers”. But this is no more than public relations. “As long as smallholders themselves are only passive recipients of largesse from the corporations, and the companies determine

ACB applauds tribunal decision to prohibit Pioneer Hi Bred and Pannar seed merger

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) applauds today’s decision of the Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) to prohibit the seed merger between multinational seed company Pioneer Hi Bred, and South Africa‘s largest seed company, Pannar Seed.

During December 2010, the Competition Commission prohibited the merger and the merging parties referred the Commission’s decision to the Tribunal for reconsideration. After a three- week- long hearing, the Tribunal has decided to similarly prohibit the merger. Reasons for the decision is still forthcoming and no further information is at this stage available.

The ACB was granted leave by the Tribunal on the 19th August 2011, to intervene in the merger proceedings on public interest grounds, particularly with regard to the effect the merger would have on small scale farmers. This was itself precedent setting in that it was the first time the Tribunal had allowed NGOs to intervene in merger proceedings.

The ACB has in fact been involved in the merger proceedings since October 2010. The ACB participated in the proceedings and led the expert evidence of an agricultural economist working directly with small- holder farmers, who outlined the devastating impacts the merger would have on small-holder farmers and food security.


Corporate concentration and control in the grains and oilseed value chain in South Africa: A case study of the Bunge/Senwes joint venture

The Bunge/Senwes joint venture signals the first significant investment by Bunge in Africa. Bunge is one of the world’s largest and most influential corporations and is amongst a handful of companies dominating global trade in agricultural commodities. Senwes holds a dominant position in the South African market for the storage and handling of grain crops. In this briefing, we provide inter alia:

  • A breakdown of the value chains of the various grains and oilseeds that the joint venture will focus upon, with particular attention being paid to the storage and handling of these crops;
  • Information on South Africa’s three largest grain storage companies;
  • A summary of the merger and acquisition activity in the agribusiness sector, including areas of strategic convergence such as poultry production and grain storage and trading; and
  • Our major concerns with the joint venture and the imbalances and inequities in the food system that it entrenches.
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Global Grain Giant Bunge, to enter SA market!

The Competition Commission has on 2nd September 2011, approved, with conditions, a joint venture between the multinational grain trader Bunge, and South African grain storage and trading company, Senwes.

In terms of the joint venture, a separate legal entity, Bunge Senwes Proprietary Ltd, has been formed, with each party controlling 50%.

According to Mariam Mayet of the ACB, ?the joint venture marks Bunge’s first significant investment in Africa and places both players in a powerful position in an already concentrated market.?

The ACB made written submissions to the Competition Commission with regard to the joint venture, and raised concerns about the impact such a large corporation such as Bunge would have on South Africa‘s agricultural sector.

Bunge is one of the so-called ‘ABCD’ group of grain traders, along with Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), and Louis Dreyfus. The ABCD group contains some of the largest, most secretive and influential corporations in the world. In 2008, with hundreds of millions of people driven to hunger by the dramatic food price rises, the profits of these corporations soared. As the global economy continues to stagger from one crisis to the next, food prices are again sky-rocketing.

In 2010, Bunge’s revenues



Johannesburg, Sunday 21st August 2011

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) welcomes the decision made by the Competition Tribunal on 19 August 2011, to allow the ACB to intervene in the merger proceedings involving multinational seed giant, Pioneer Hi Bred’s bid to take over South Africa‘s largest seed company, Panaar. The ACB, represented by Legal Aid South Africa, and advocates Stephen Budlender and Isabel Goodman, has consistently sought to lead evidence and present argument on public interest grounds that militate against authorisation of the merger.

The ACB argued in its intervention application heard before the Tribunal on the 12th August 2011, that the proposed merger would result in the concentration of market share in the maize seed industry in only two large commercial entities, namely Pioneer and Monsanto with concomitant negative consequences for small holder farmers and consumers. Such concentration, the ACB argued, would lead effectively to the creation of a duopoly with dire consequences for food security of the country in particular and the region as a whole as well as on the viability of small scale farmers. The ACB is extremely grateful for