Antitrust: Commission Fines Conserve Italia €20 Million for Participating in Canned Vegetables Cartel!
The European Commission has fined Conserve Italia Soc. coop. agricola and its subsidiary Conserves France S.A. (together ‘Conserve Italia') a total of € 20.000.000 for breaching EU antitrust rules.
The Commission has found that, for more than 13 years, Conserve Italia participated with other market participants in a cartel for the supply of certain types of canned vegetables to retailers and/or food service companies in the European Economic Area (“EEA”).
For over 13 years Conserve Italia and the other cartel participants fixed prices, agreed on market shares and volume quotas, allocated customers and markets, exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated their replies to tenders. Their goal was to preserve or strengthen their position on the market, maintain or increase selling prices, reduce uncertainty for their future commercial conduct and control marketing and trading conditions to their advantage.
The infringement covered the entire EEA and Conserve Italia's participation in the cartel lasted from 15 March 2000 to 1 October 2013.
The Commission's investigation revealed the existence of a single infringement comprising three separate agreements:
- An agreement covering private label sales of canned vegetables such as green beans, peas, peas-and-carrots mix and vegetable macedoine to retailers in the EEA;
- An agreement covering private label sales of canned sweetcorn to retailers in the EEA; and
- An agreement covering both own brands and private label sales (sold under retailers' brands) of canned vegetables to retailers and the food service industry specifically in France.
Conserve Italia participated only in the two first agreements.
In setting the level of fines, the Commission took into account various elements, including the sales value in the EEA achieved by Conserve Italia for the products in question, the serious nature of the infringement, its geographic scope and its duration.
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