Dutch online supermarket Picnic has announced it is going to buy A-brand products for the Dutch market abroad, although manufacturers are trying to prevent it. Ahold Delhaize is also calling for a “more efficient” internal market.
“We are going to try”
Brands like Coca-Cola, Magnum or Pampers cost significantly less in Germany and France than in the Netherlands, Picnic co-founder Joris Beckers says. Therefore, he wants to buy those products abroad from now on: after all, the online supermarket operates in these three countries and buys internationally through purchasing organisation Everest, a collaboration with German supermarket chain Edeka.
However, this does not turn out to be so easy in practice: brand manufacturers try to prevent cross-border buying through all kinds of tricks, such as different labels, packaging and formats. Or they simply refuse to deliver: “If I tell a German supplier that I want part of my order delivered to the Netherlands, I am told that this is impossible“, Beckers told Dutch newspaper FD. Still, he is not deterred: “We are just going to try it with some products.”
Hard to prove
Manufacturers prefer to maintain price differences within Europe, but these so-called ‘territorial supply restrictions’ have long been a thorn in the side of retailers. Ahold Delhaize’s Wouter Kolk also speaks out clearly: “We believe that products sourced in one EU country should also be able to be sold in another EU country.”
A decade ago, Ahold Delhaize’s Dutch subsidiary Albert Heijn clashed heavily with AB InBev in the same way: it sold beer from the Netherlands also in its Belgian shops. That eventually led to a conviction in 2019: the brewer had to pay a 200 million euro fine. However, that ruling turned out to be an exception: it is proving very difficult to find hard evidence against abuse of power by large manufacturers. An investigation into similar practices at Mondelez has been ongoing since 2019.