Thursday, May 30, 2024

fine for chocolate badboy


EC fines Mondelēz €338m for anti-competitive chocolate trade

Food producer illegally restricted retailers from sourcing its goods from member states where prices were lower

Multinational food and confectionary firm Mondelēz International has been fined €337.5m for breaching the EU’s competition rules by restricting trade of chocolate, biscuits and coffee products between member states. The decision by the European Commission could trigger litigation against Mondelēz from suppliers and affected consumer groups.

“Any person or company affected by anticompetitive behaviour as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the member states and seek damages,” the EC said, adding that its decision is binding proof of illegal activity. “Even though the Commission has fined the cartel participants concerned, damages may be awarded by national courts without being reduced on account of the Commission fine,” it said.

Mondelēz was found to have engaged in 22 anti-competitive agreements with wholesalers limiting where products could be sold, and preventing ten European distributors active in some member states from selling Mondelēz products in other member states without prior permission.

Headquartered in the US, producing brands such as Oreo and Milka, Mondelēz was also found to have abused its dominant position in some member states to control the sale and prices of its chocolate tablets. In particular, the Commission said Mondelēz refused to supply a broker in Germany in order to prevent the products from being re-sold in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and Romania, where Mondelēz products already sold at a higher price. The company also ceased supplying chocolate tablet goods in the Netherlands so they could not cross the border to Belgium, where the goods sold for more.

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy, said: “Mondelēz was selling a range of products at different prices in different member states. It wanted to control where and to whom its products were resold by the traders. In member states where it charged higher prices, Mondelez ensured that prices remained high.”

The EC highlighted one agreement that ordered the wholesaler to charge more for exports of Mondelēz’s food goods.

“Mondelēz’s illegal practices prevented retailers from being able to freely source products in member states with lower prices, and artificially partitioned the internal market,” the EC said.

The investigation tracks anti-competitive practices dating back to 2006 through to 2020, with the EC opening its investigation in 2021. Mondelēz reserved €300m in February last year to resolve the EC probe.