South Africa’s Competition Commission has raided the premises of five top manufacturers of refined edible oils, margarine and baking fats accused of price fixing.

The commission said it had reasonable grounds to suspect Wilmar Continental Edible Oils and Fats; DH Brothers Industries (trading as Willowton Oil and Cake Mills); FR Waring Holdings; Africa Sun Oil Refineries and Epic Foods of cartel conduct, BakeryAndSnacks reported on 13 December.

Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said the commission had been monitoring the oils and fats market had noted some “worrisome” developments and the prices of some products increasing “at almost the same time”, the report said.

The alleged price fixing was believed to have started before 2007.

BakeryAndSnacks said the commission had raided the companies’ premises in Gauteng and KawZulu-Natal, seizing documents, records and electronic data to determine if the companies had contravened the Competitions Act.

Wilmar International said it took legal compliance very seriously and was cooperating with all parties to assist with the investigation.

Willowton said the company had been previously investigated but no evidence had been found of any wrongdoing and it refuted the allegations again.

Epic Foods also denied any wrongdoing but said it was cooperating with the commission, the report said.