Taipei, (CNA) Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an investigation into a massive run on toilet paper amid expectations of a price increase in mid-March, and will host a forum on Tuesday to address the issue.
The FTC sent officials to outlets of major hypermarkets looking for evidence that they jointly raised the price of toilet paper to benefit from the huge surge in demand, said FTC deputy chief Perng Shaw-jiin (彭紹瑾) on Monday.
A post on the FTC’s website also urged all parties not to jointly engage in manipulating the price of the item as toilet paper supplies at brick and mortar stores or e-commerce sites were being snatched up by consumers.
Five million packages of toilet paper were sold in just three days at the 24h.pchome.com.tw shopping site, up 22-fold from the regular sales volume.
Consumers in Taiwan were eager to stock up before mid-March when prices will reportedly rise by 10-30 percent because of rising pulp prices in the world market.
Because toilet paper is a daily necessity, FTC officials said wholesale outlets or manufacturers will be punished if they are found to have manipulated prices, artificially stirred up buying sentiment or tried not to reveal complete information.
The FTC urged the public to report such offenses, saying whistleblowers will be eligible for a reward of 5-20 percent of the fines imposed on companies caught engaging in such activities.
Fines could go as high as NT$50 million (US$1.7 million) in line with the Fair Trade Law, it said.
On Tuesday, representatives from the FTC and eight toilet paper producers and hypermarkets will attend the FTC forum to try to calm the toilet-buying frenzy.
(By Tsai Yi-chu and Flor Wang)