Toblerone owner under investigation for anti-competitive practices
Thursday, 28 January 2021
The European Commission announced on Thursday that it was opening a formal investigation into the practices of US food giant Mondelez, owner of Lu, Oreo, Milka and Toblerone.
The European executive suspects the group to have voluntarily created obstacles to the trade of its products between EU Member States to maintain prices, Belga reports.
If the anti-competitive practices are proven, they could be violations of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
The Commission is investigating if the US-based multinational has deliberately hindered trade flows within the single market, “ultimately leading to higher prices for consumers,” said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Trade within the internal market can lower prices and increase the variety of products on offer in the Member States,” to the benefit of consumers.
Through agreements with traders, Mondelez would, for example, have limited the sales territories of its products within the EU for some of them. The company may also have tried to reduce “parallel trade”, through which traders can buy products cheaper in one member state and resell them elsewhere in the EU.
The group would have played on the price, the language of the packaging or the quantity supplied, to prevent these intra-European flows from dragging down the final price of its cookies, chocolates and coffees in member states where the cost of living is higher.
The Commission has already been looking into these potentially illegal practices for some time, and says it conducted unannounced inspections at the Mondelez premises in November 2019.