Anti-competitive probe a 'timebomb’ for food manufacturers

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

Good communication between regulators is creating a domino effect
Good communication between regulators is creating a domino effect
Food manufacturers trading across Europe have been warned that they are sitting “on a time bomb” if they have engaged in anti-competitive practices.

Adam Collinson, a partner at Eversheds LLP, said there was no sign that EU’s European Competition Network (ECN) was easing up on its efforts to clamp down on anti-competitive activities.

He told delegate at a food and drink legal seminar at Eversheds London office that the ECN had been buoyed by its recent success because the food sector had been a fertile source of competition infringement.

“The more the authorities look, the more they find,”​ he said. “They are not going to stop shining a light on these practices when they are having so much success.”

‘The more they look, the more they find’

He said a strong network of communication had been built up between the national competition authorities within the ECN.

“This is creating a domino effect,” he said. “If you look at some of the investigations in one area, they are frequently popping up in others.”

He told delegates that anti-competitive practices included price fixing, market sharing, unlawful information exchange, resale price maintenance and exclusionary conduct.

He said there had been 180 anti-trust investigations between 2004-11.

“If there are anti-competitive practices going on, or in a company’s history, they are sitting on a time bomb. This is a good time for all companies to check how compliant they are with competition laws.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission has told 13 companies supplying packaging for meat, fish and cheese products that they may have been participating in a cartel for up to eight years in breach of EU antitrust rules.

The Commission has sent a statement of objections to manufacturers or distributors of polystyrene foam trays and polypropylene rigid trays.

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