According to Bundeskartellamt, a number of statement and documents discovered have proved that there was a traditional "basic consensus" among the 21 named manufacturers to inform one another about demands for price increases. Companies involved include: Herta GmbH - part of Nestlé; Lutz Fleischwaren GmbH - part of Vion; Willms Fleisch GmbH; and Rudolf und Robert Houdek GmbH.
Meetings had reportedly taken place over several decades, between the so-called ‘Atlantic Group’, with actual agreements made to jointly implement price increases in the retail sector.
Due to the range of products sold, it was not possible to set a blanket price increase, so increases were agreed for product groups, allowing the manufacturers to command higher prices for their products.
Andreas Mundt, president, Bundeskartellamt, said: "The price-fixing agreements were practised over many years. The overall amount of fines seems high at first glance, but has to be seen in perspective in view of the large number of companies involved, the duration of the cartel and the billions in turnover achieved in this market.
"We have maintained a sense of proportion, in particular in setting fines in this case, in view of the several small and medium-sized companies active in this sector. For the companies’ benefit, we have taken into account the special position of the manufacturers between the food retail trade on the one side and the meat trade on the other, which is just as concentrated. We have also taken the economic situation and financial capacity of each individual company into consideration where relevant evidence was submitted."
Bundeskartellamt investigated the cartel following an anonymous tip-off. The fining decisions are not yet final and can be appealed within two weeks to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.
For a full list of the names visit: http://www.bundeskartellamt.de/SharedDocs/Meldung/EN/Pressemitteilungen/2014/15_07_2014_Wurst.html