The European Commission has imposed a fine of 31.6 million euros on canned vegetable producers CEBAB and Coroos for running a cartel. Bonduelle, who revealed the existence of the cartel, escaped a 250 million euro fine.
Whistleblower walks free
The French group CECAB was fined 18 million euros while, Dutch Coroos will have to pay 13.6 million euros for taking part in the cartel. Bonduelle, who was also found guilty, will not be fined as it disclosed the existence of the cartel to the European Commission.
According to the Commission, the three companies formed a cartel for the supply of various types of canned vegetables to the retail and catering sectors between the years 2000 and 2013. This involved price-fixing, the allocation of markets and customers among themselves, and the exchange of commercially sensitive information. All three companies have meanwhile admitted their involvement in the cartel and have accepted a settlement.
European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is responsible for competition policy, took a hard line: "European consumers should have access to food at affordable prices. Competition enables that. But instead of competing with each other, Coroos and Groupe CECAB agreed to divide the market among themselves and to fix prices for canned vegetables across Europe. They did so for over a decade. These cartels ultimately hurt European consumers and with today's decision, we send a clear message to companies that cartels are not accepted."