Home News Oreo maker Mondelez hit with $366 million antitrust fine by EU

Oreo maker Mondelez hit with $366 million antitrust fine by EU

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Oreo maker Mondelez hit with $366 million antitrust fine by EU

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The European Union slapped a 337.5 million euro ($366 million) fine Thursday on Mondelez, the U.S. confectioner behind major brands including Oreo, for restricting sales of products within the 27-country bloc.

Mondelez, formerly called Kraft, is one of the world’s largest producers of chocolate, biscuits and coffee, with revenue of $36 billion last year.

The EU fined Mondelez “because they have been restricting the cross border trade of chocolate, biscuits and coffee products within the European Union,” the EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said.

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“This harmed consumers, who ended up paying more for chocolate, biscuits and coffee,” she told reporters in Brussels.

“This case is about price of groceries. It’s a key concern to European citizens and even more obvious in times of very high inflation, where many are in a cost-of-living crisis,” she added.

The free movement of goods is one of the key pillars of the EU’s single market.

Mondelez brands also include Philadelphia cream cheese and Ritz crackers as well as chocolate brands Cadbury and Cote d’Or.

The commission, the EU’s powerful antitrust regulator, said Mondelez “abused its dominant position” in breach of the bloc’s rules.

It said the confectioner engaged in “anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices” between 2012 and 2019 including limiting wholesale customers’ ability to resell products and ordering them to apply higher prices for exports compared to domestic sales.

The EU’s probe dates back to January 2021 but the suspicions had led the bloc’s investigators to carry out raids in Mondelez offices across Europe in November 2019.

According to the commission, between 2015 and 2019, Mondelez also refused to supply a trader in Germany to avoid the resale of chocolate in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and Romania, “where prices were higher.”

It also stopped the supply of certain chocolate products in The Netherlands “to prevent them from being imported into Belgium, where Mondelez was selling these products at higher prices.”

Mondelez, however, insisted the fine related to “historical, isolated incidents, most of which ceased or were remedied well in advance of the commission’s investigation.”

“Many of these incidents were related to business dealings with brokers, which are typically conducted via sporadic and often one-off sales, and a limited number of small-scale distributors developing new business in EU markets in which Mondelez is not present or doesn’t market the respective product,” it added in a statement.

The giant had put aside 300 million euros for the fine last year.

“No further measures to finance the fine will be necessary,” it said.

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