German shops fined for beer price-fixing


The German Cartel Office has fined several supermarket chains €90.5m (£71m) for fixing the price of some beers, sweets and coffee.

Retailers Edeka, Metro and Netto were fined for fixing the price of Beck’s and other beers owned by brewing giant AB InBev.

Lidl was fined for the price-fixing of Haribo confectionery.

The cartel office said its six-year investigation into pricing agreements was now nearly complete.

It began in January 2010, when the office carried out dawn raids to gather information about illegal agreements between retailers and manufacturers.

So far, it has imposed fines totalling €242m over price-fixing involving confectionery, coffee, pet food, beer and body care products.

Extensive cooperationThe Cartel Office said the brewer AB InBev, whose brands Beck’s, Franziskaner and Hasseroeder were under particular investigation, and the retailer REWE Zentral escaped fines because they co-operated from early on in the investigation.

Andreas Mundt, president of the Cartel Office, said: “In the sale of its premium beer brands, the brewery concerned agreed with retailers on several occasions to raise shop prices and co-ordinated the details between them, in particular reference dates and the level of the respective price increase.”

The retailers expected that the brewery would ensure that the price increase was simultaneously implemented by competing retailers.

The ones suffering from such systematic price maintenance practices are the end consumers.”



Source: BBC