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Taiwan fines RT-Mart supermarket NT$3.5 million for causing toilet paper panic

Supermarket spread price rise rumor in order to help its own promotion for toilet paper: FTC

RT-Mart fined for causing toilet paper panic.

RT-Mart fined for causing toilet paper panic. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Fair Trade Commission (FTC, 公平會) said Wednesday it was fining supermarket chain RT-Mart (大潤發) NT$3.5 million (US$119,800) for the false announcement of price hikes for toilet paper which caused nationwide shortages.

Consumers fearing imminent price increases lined up at supermarkets across the island and bought as many rolls of toilet paper as they could move, leading to bare shelves for days on end.

As a result of the public outcry, the government investigated five major supermarket chains and three paper producers. An official said the investigation into whether the latter had colluded to raise prices had not been completed yet, and a new round of sanctions might be taken at a later date, the Central News Agency reported.

RT-Mart said Wednesday it would first wait to read the message from the FTC before formulating a reaction.

The commission said that in order to fuel a promotion campaign for toilet paper from February 23 to 27, RT-Mart had spread the news on February 23 that the product would soon become more expensive. It had also mentioned an estimate of the price rises while insisting it would stick to a low-price policy, the FTC said.

RT-Mart was founded in 1996 by Ruentex Group Chairman Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), one of Taiwan’s wealthiest men. The company has set up a joint venture with France’s Auchan.