EC warns AB InBev about preventing cheaper imports of beer into Belgium
Effective competition is important for European consumers to reap all the benefits of the internal market.
This case is an example of the Commission's effort to ensure effective competition along all levels of the value chain from farmers, producers, distributors to consumers.
Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: "Belgian consumers may have had to pay more for their favourite beers.
Our preliminary finding is that AB InBev may have deliberately prevented cheaper beer imports out of France and the Netherlands from reaching consumers in Belgium. Such practices would breach EU competition rules, because they deny consumers the benefits of the EU Single Market – choice and lower prices. AB InBev now has the opportunity to respond to our concerns."
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (AB InBev) is the world's biggest beer brewer, with a very strong position on the Belgian beer market. Its most popular beer brands in Belgium are Jupiler and Leffe. AB InBev also sells these two brands in the Netherlands and France.
The Commission's investigation has shown that in these two countries AB InBev sells Jupiler and Leffe at lower prices than in Belgium due to the increased competition it faces there.
The Commission's preliminary view, outlined in its Statement of Objections, is that AB InBev is dominant on the Belgian beer market.
It alleges that AB InBev has abused this dominant market position by pursuing a deliberate strategy to prevent supermarkets and wholesalers from buying Jupiler and Leffe at lower prices in the Netherlands and France, and from importing them into Belgium. ■