Around 460 pork vendors and owners of slaughterhouses in Phnom Penh signed a petition addressed to the Phnom Penh municipal animal health department on Wednesday to protest what they say is an oligopoly that has driven up pork prices with foreign imports, vendors said Friday.
The price of imported pigs has increased from 8,200 riel to 9,500 riel per kilogram this month alone, according to the petition dated Jan 26 and obtained on Friday.
The petition accuses local companies Yuvak Peanic, Mekong Peanic, Nguon Socheth Development and Tho Kimsreang of joining forces to control the rights to import pigs from Thailand and to also artificially inflate prices.
“We are very worried about the steady increase in the price for pigs,” the petition reads. “[If the companies] plan to continue increasing the price it will affect the income and living standards of the buyers and the people.”
Officials from the four companies could not be reached for comment Friday.
San Chanthet, 51, a pork vender in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, said around 40 venders and slaughterhouse owners gathered in front of the municipal animal health production department on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the price of pigs being imported by the four companies.
“Such treatment is not fair to small vendors. It is against the law and the principal of the free market,” said Mr Chanthet, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture has restricted local pig farmers’ access to Phnom Penh’s slaughterhouses, and required they only buy from the four named companies.
Pheng Sokham, director of the municipal animal health production department, who had met with protesters, said on Friday that he had not seen the petition and defended the prices set by the four companies.
“I am not clear about the reason behind the protests,” Mr Sokham said. “But in a free market, the price depends on the sellers.”
Pea Chhunly, bureau chief of the municipal animal health department, and Kao Sophal, director of the department of animal health production at the Agriculture Ministry, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Several vendors and slaughterhouse owners said Friday that they had planned to gather in front of the Agriculture Ministry on Monday to protest the ban on local pig farmers from selling their livestock to Phnom Penh’s slaughterhouses.