Kraft shares €9m fine for German cappuccino cartel activity

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Kraft shares €9m fine for German cappuccino cartel activity

Related tags Coffee

Coffee roasting firms Kraft and Krüger have been hit by fines totaling €9m for allegedly fixing instant cappuccino coffee prices in Germany, activity that the nation's federal competition agency said most likely meant higher consumer prices.

Germany’s federal competition agency, the Bundeskartellamt, revealed details of the fines yesterday, which will also be imposed on 2 senior employees of the firms, with the parties accused of agreeing price increases for ‘Family Cappucino’ products in late 2007 and early 2008.

The Bonn-based agency said that Kraft Foods Deutschland – a German division of Kraft Foods – and Kreuger were both fined for agreeing the time and amount of price increases for retailers, via telephone conversations at the end of 2007 and 2008.

Due to an agreed settlement, Kraft’s fine was now final, the agency said, but Krüger’s penalty was not, with the company still able to appeal against the decision to Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.

Telephone conversations

German instant cappuccino is sold in 350g and 500g bags or tins to food retailers, the agency noted.

Bundeskartellamt president, Andreas Mundt said: “Senior staff members of the companies discussed the level and timeframe for the intended price increases in telephone conversations.”

He added: “These conversations concerned detailed price increases of between 20 and 40 cents per bag on the selling price ex-factory and the recommended shelf prices and special offer prices for the various products.”

“Such agreements cause great harm to the economy as a whole, and consumers are likely to have paid too much for instant cappuccino.”

The Bundeskartellamt did not explain how the €9m total fine had been apportioned, but said that Kraft Foods Deutschland’s penalty had been reduced since it “co-operated in clarifying the accusations”.

Krüger considers appeal?

A third German coffee roaster, Melitta Kaffee, had not been fined because it had provided information that allowed initiation of proceedings, the agency said.

A Krüger spokesman had no comment to make when contacted by BeverageDaily.com, but the company reportedly told Reuters that it was considering whether an appeal to the Düsseldorf court.

A Kraft Foods Deutschland spokeswoman said she could confirm that a settlement agreement had been reached with the Bundeskartellamt, but declined to comment further.

The Federal Competition Agency also fined a number of German roasters €30m last June, while others were fined around €160m in December 2009.

Related topics Regulation & safety

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