EU glass bottle makers accused of price fixing

By Chris Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union European commission

A German member of the European Parliament (MEP) has called on the
European Commission (EC) to investigate claims that glass bottle
makers have been fixing prices.

In a statement, Werner Langen said that the European wine and spirit industry was suffering because glass container prices had risen by 30 per cent in the last year.

"Since the European market for glass bottles is dominated by three main producers, the [European wine and spirit] producers suspect illegal price fixing is behind the exorbitant price rises," Langen said.

Two main European glass container producers Currently the US group O-I (which bought French firm BSN-Glasspack in 2004), Saint Gobain of France and Ireland's Ardagh Glass (which last year acquired the glass packaging unit of can maker Rexam) claim to be the main European glass container makers, although Langen did not name them specifically.

None were immediately available for comment.

The European container glass federation, which represents the wider glass container industry in the EU, told that had no knowledge of Langen's complaint, or of the accusations of price fixing.

Langen said he had asked the EC whether it could confirm the increase in glass prices, and if so how it planned to respond to the official complaint from European wine and spirit producers.

Competition authorities confirm formal investigation He said the competition authorities had acknowledged receipt of his request, but that they could not yet confirm whether they would carry out a formal investigation into the price rises or whether there was any confirmation of a cartel.

Langen said that the fact that three glass makers had " reduced their production capacities" had merely aggravated the situation.

"This strengthens the suspicion that there is a cartel," Langen said in his statement, without giving further details.

Langen was unavailable for comment, but his researcher in the European parliament confirmed that the letter had been sent to the commission and that it could take up to six to eight weeks to receive an answer from the commission.

Complaint based on sound evidence He said that Langen's complaint had been based on sound evidence from the drinks industry - not least from the MEP's own constituency of the Rhineland-Palatinate, a major German wine region.

This is not the first time that wine and spirit producers have complained about the rising cost - and growing shortage - of glass containers.

In August last year they contacted the European commission directly to call for an investigation into what it deemed to be unfounded increases in the cost of glass bottles and jars.

The commission's competition authorities, led by commissioner Neelie Kroes, said at that the time that they would investigate - and the lack of concrete response from the Brussels executive was the main motivation for Langen's question.

Related topics Manufacturers Smart Packaging

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