Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean



Conserve Italia and Conserves France ordered to pay €20m for anti-competitive practices

The cartel concerned vegetable preserves (photo: Valfrutta/Conserve Italia)
The cartel concerned vegetable preserves (photo: Valfrutta/Conserve Italia)
ITALY. Conserve Italia and its subsidiary Conserves France S.A. have been fined €20m for anti-competitive practices by the European Commission on Friday 19 November 2021.

The Italian cooperative company (3,000 employees) has eleven production sites, eight in Italy, two in France (Tarascon, headquarters of Conserves France, and Saint-Sylvestre-sur-Lot, 40 km north of Agen) and one in southern Spain (Churra in the Murcia region). It markets its products under the Cirio, Derby Blue, Valfrutta, Yoga and Barbier Dauphin brands.

For more than thirteen years (from 15 March 2000 to 1 October 2013), Conserve Italia infringed EU rules by being a member of a cartel for the supply of certain types of canned vegetables to retailers and/or catering companies in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The other participating market players, Bonduelle, Coroos and the CECAB Group (renamed the d'Aucy Group since 2015), received a settlement decision in September 2019 for the same facts. They had to pay €13.647m and €18m respectively, making a total of €31.64m. At the time, Conserve Italia chose not to enter into this transaction.

"The decision we have taken today marks the end of the proceedings against the vegetable canning cartel", said Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition Policy.

A 50% reduction in the fine

These vegetable canning companies fixed prices, market shares and sales volumes together before sharing out customers and markets, mainly for green beans, peas, pea and carrot mixes and vegetable macerates. "They coordinated their responses to tenders. Their objective was to preserve or strengthen their market position, to maintain or increase sales prices, to reduce uncertainty about the future commercial behaviour of the participants and to formulate and control the marketing and trading conditions to their advantage," the European Commission said in its decision.

Three separate cartel arrangements were identified after the European Commission's investigation. Conserve Italia only participated in the first two. The Italian cooperative received a 50% reduction in its fine for cooperating.

Already in June 2014, the same body had adopted a settlement decision for anti-competitive cartel in the canned mushroom markets. Bonduelle, Lutèce and Prochamp paid a total of €32 million. In April 2016, a fourth company also involved, Riberebro, was fined €5.2m (also reduced by 50%).

Eric Apim

Tuesday, November 23rd 2021

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