Petfood firms fined €35 million

Nestlé, Mars and Colgate Palmolive rapped for breaking competition rules

21 March 2012

THE three largest manufacturers of dog and cat biscuits on sale in France have been fined a total of €35.3 million for price fixing.

The Competition Authority ruled that from 2004 to 2008 Nestlé (the Purina brand) and Mars (Royal Canin) came to illegal agreements with wholesalers who sell on their products to DIY or pet or gardening chains such as Jardiland or Leroy Merlin.

The firms fixed resale prices and arranged deals on exclusive coverage of certain territories, limiting competition between them, which the authority said harmed the consumer.

A third large firm, Colgate Palmolive (Hill’s Pet Nutrition) came to an agreement with its veterinary wholesalers to prevent export of its products outside mainland France.

The authority said the practices were all the more harmful considering that, between them, the firms had 70% of the market to specialist outlets and their products were ones that consumers were emotionally attached to, so making them more vulnerable.

Nestlé was fined €19m, Mars €11.6m and Colgate Palmolive €4.7m. These fines had been reduced 20% for admitting the facts and agreeing to put new procedures in place meeting competition rules.

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