The European Commission has fined Conserve Italia Soc. coop. agricola and its subsidiary Conserves France S.A. (together ‘Conserve Italia') a total of € 20 000 000 for breaching EU antitrust rules.
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The Commission has found that, for more than 12 years, Conserve Italia participated with other market participants in a cartel for the supply of certain types of canned vegetables to retailers and or food service companies in the European Economic Area (EEA).
In September 2019, the Commission adopted a settlement decision against Bonduelle, Coroos and Groupe CECAB for participating in the same cartel. Conserve Italia decided not to settle this case with the Commission, unlike the three other participants. As a result, the Commission's investigation against Conserve Italia continued under the standard cartel procedure.
For over 13 years Conserve Italia and the other cartel participants fixed prices, agreed on market shares and volume quotas, allocated customers and markets, exchanged commercially sensitive information and coordinated their replies to tenders. Their goal was to preserve or strengthen their position on the market, maintain or increase selling prices, reduce uncertainty for their future commercial conduct and control marketing and trading conditions to their advantage.
The infringement covered the entire EEA and Conserve Italia's participation in the cartel lasted from 15 March 2000 to 1 October 2013.
• An agreement covering private label sales of canned vegetables such as green beans, peas, peas-and-carrots mix and vegetable macedoine to retailers in the EEA;
• An agreement covering private label sales of canned sweetcorn to retailers in the EEA; and
• An agreement covering both own brands and private label sales (sold under retailers' brands) of canned vegetables to retailers and to the food service industry specifically in France.
Conserve Italia participated only in the two first agreements. Conserve Italia benefitted from 50 % reduction of its fine for its cooperation with the Commission investigation under the Commission's 2006 Leniency Notice. The reduction reflects the timing of Conserve Italia's cooperation and the extent to which the evidence it provided helped the Commission to prove the existence of the cartel in which it was involved. ■
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