Zespri International, the world's largest marketer of kiwifruit, has been fined half a million dollars for anti competitive behavior in the Korean market.

The Korean fair trade commission (KFTC) fined the company yesterday for hindering the domestic sale of kiwifruit.

The commission found Zespri signed a sales contract with E-Mart, the nation's number one supermarket chain, not to sell cheaper Chilean kiwis.

A similar deal was made with Lotte Mart, Korea's number three supermarket player.


"The distribution of cheaper Chilean kiwis at major retail chains would prompt price competition within the industry," said a KFTC official.

Instead, the Zespri contracts resulted in New Zealand kiwifruit prices rising 13 percent in the Korean market.

In a statement released to BusinessDesk, Zespri confirmed it had adjusted "certain business practices in Korea" and it was found to have "wrongly sought favourable positioning in the Korean market."

The company's communications advisor David Courtney said, the KFTC will release its full decision in two weeks and no comment would be made before then.

Zespri has a statutory monopoly on the export of kiwifruit produced in New Zealand.