FTC is investigating prices of sanitary pads

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FTC is investigating prices of sanitary pads

The Fair Trade Commission has opened investigations into Yuhan-Kimberly, LG Unicharm and P&G Korea to probe whether Korea’s top sanitary pad manufacturers excessively priced their products.

The three companies control 93 percent of the domestic sanitary pad market as a whole, with Yuhan-Kimberly comprising 55 percent, LG Unicharm controlling 23 percent and P&G Korea making up 15 percent of the market, according to statistics. The size of the domestic sanitary pad market reached 485 billion won ($43.4 million) in 2014.

The controversy regarding the price of domestic sanitary pads first surfaced in May after Yuhan-Kimberly said that it would raise the price of certain products by 7.5 percent. Criticism swelled after it was revealed that the cost of the products’ raw material, including pulp and felt, had fallen.

Public outrage intensified after a social media post mentioned that teenagers from low-income households were using shoe insoles as alternatives to sanitary pads.

Yuhan-Kimberly later tried to end the controversy by cancelling plans for the price increase and promising free sanitary pads to low-income teens, but this did not stop public outrage.

In July, members of the National Assembly raised concerns regarding domestic sanitary pad manufacturers’ pricing system. Until recently, the FTC, as a government affiliate, seemed reluctant to jump into investigations and interfere with product prices.

A spokesman for the Fair Trade Association said that the investigation is still in the early stages and that it is hard to make conclusions on the matter. “If the association proves the companies have engaged in an illegal act, proper measures will be taken according to the gravity of the offense, whether it’s a simple warning or legal procedures,” he added.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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