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US Food Giant Mondelēz Fined €337.5 Million for Breaching EU Antitrust Rules

 |  May 23, 2024

The European Commission has imposed a fine of €337.5 million on Mondelēz, the American multinational behind popular brands such as Oreo and Toblerone, for obstructing cross-border trade within the EU’s Single Market. This decision concludes a five-year investigation into the company’s practices, which were found to be in breach of EU antitrust regulations.

The antitrust investigation revealed that Mondelēz had been illegally restricting retailers from sourcing their products from member states where prices were lower, effectively maintaining higher prices across the EU. This practice, which spanned from 2006 to 2020, involved agreements with traders to limit the sale of products in specific EU territories, affecting chocolates, biscuits, and coffee.

“This harms consumers who end up paying more for chocolates, biscuits, and coffee. It’s a key concern to European citizens and even more obvious in times of very high inflation, where many are in a cost of living crisis,” stated Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s Vice-President, during today’s press conference.

Vestager emphasized that these practices undermine parallel trade, where traders buy products in countries with lower prices to sell in higher-priced markets. Parallel trade is seen by the Commission as a mechanism to boost consumer choice and keep prices competitive.

“There is a huge potential for parallel trade if it is not restricted. It puts pressure on prices to come down,” added Vestager, who oversees competition enforcement.

The EU Commission’s findings indicated that Mondelēz had entered into 11 separate agreements with seven traders to restrict cross-border sales, breaking antitrust rules. This behavior was found to violate Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibit restrictive business practices and abuse of a dominant market position.

In recognition of Mondelēz’s cooperation during the investigation, the fine was reduced by 15%, facilitating a more efficient resolution of the case. Despite this reduction, the substantial penalty underscores the Commission’s commitment to enforcing antitrust laws and protecting consumer interests within the Single Market.

Source: Euro News