Spain’s National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) fined 11 dairy companies a total of €88m, for fixing milk prices paid to Spanish farmers over a period of 13 years.
The CNMC, Spain’s competition watchdog, said that the businesses, which included the Spanish units of European groups Danone, Nestle and Lactalis, committed “a unique and ongoing offence”, with the anti-competitive practices occurring between at least 2000 and 2013
Authorities heard complaints of businesses sharing sensitive information about customers, trading terms and prices, as well as agreeing to split the market between them by fixing conditions and charges on farmers.
The CNMC said the practices distorted the normal functioning of the market and had negative effects, with farmers the hardest hit.
Last week, Spain’s farming minister, Isabel Garcia Tejerina, said that she respected the watchdog’s independence but expressed concern about the effects of the large fine on the dairy industry and on farmers. Just under 40% of the milk in Spain is marketed by 199 farmer-owned co-operatives.
The bulk of the fines fell on six companies: Danone (€23.2m); Corporacion Alimentaria Penasanta (€21.8m); Grupo Lactalis Iberia (€11.6m); Nestle Espana (€10.6m); Puleva (€10.2m) and Calidad Pascual (€8.5m).
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