The Argentine government is investigating leading consumer and food companies over accusations they deliberately held back production amid a clampdown on rising prices, Reuters reported on 17 February.

In a statement, the country’s production ministry alleged that the consumer firms - including Danone, Procter & Gamble and Unilever along with global agribusiness giants Bunge and others ­­- had been “holding back production volumes” and had not abided by a resolution to increase output to the “highest degree of their installed capacity”, Reuters wrote.

An investigation had found shortages in supermarkets of products ranging from cooking oil to nappies and cheese, the statement said, and it called on the companies being investigated to rectify the situation and restore stock levels.

The companies had not immediately responded to emailed requests for comment, Reuters said.

However, Daniel Funes de Rioja, the head of food industry chamber COPAL, had rejected the allegations, saying that the industry had pushed forward despite high costs and price freezes.

The companies had supplied the market “throughout the pandemic despite sick workers, logistical problems, striking oil workers, the 15-day blockade by truckers, holidays, staff vacations and plant shutdowns for maintenance,” he added.

However, production minister Matias Kulfas said the government had detected “some products were missing in supermarkets” and had attributed the shortages to lack of supply from large industrial producers.

The Argentine government had been trying to protect consumers from rising prices and reduce rampant inflation, Reuters said, leading to clashes with some businesses and investors over price caps on some goods.