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Italian Watchdog Probes Alleged Wine Bottle Price-Fixing Cartel

 |  November 12, 2023

Italy’s Antitrust authority, the AGCM, has launched an investigation into major wine bottle producers, both local and international, following complaints from Italian winemakers about a suspected cartel influencing the pricing of glass wine bottles.

The companies under scrutiny include Italian subsidiaries of prominent global players such as France’s Verallia, the third-largest producer of glass for food and beverage packaging; US-based Berlin Packaging and O-I European Packaging; Austria’s Vetropak, and Italian manufacturers Zignago Vetro and Bormioli Luigi. Together, these companies dominate the production of wine bottles in Italy, per Financial Times.

The AGCM’s statement suggests that initial evidence indicates the “existence of a possible anti-competition agreement . . . to set the price of glass wine bottles in a coordinated manner,” a violation of European Union rules. The investigation was triggered by complaints filed earlier this year by Filiera Italia, a foundation dedicated to safeguarding “Made in Italy” food and wine; Bottega, a producer of Prosecco, grappa, liquors, and other alcoholic beverages; and an anonymous whistleblower.

The complainants pointed to a potential cartel among bottle makers, alleging that prices surged in Italy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The anonymous whistleblower noted that various bottle producers sent emails and letters to customers in Italy using remarkably similar wording to justify nearly identical price increases in March and again in September last year. The justifications cited by the producers reportedly referred to exponential increases in the costs of energy and raw materials.

The companies implicated in the investigation collectively manufacture a significant majority of the wine bottles used in Italy, raising concerns about the potential impact on the local wine industry. The AGCM’s pursuit of the antitrust investigation reflects a commitment to ensuring fair competition and protecting consumers from the adverse effects of anti-competitive practices.

Italy Wine Bottle Price-Fixing Cartel