Market gardeners criticise €23m cartel fine
Wednesday 06 June 2012
The market gardeners' association LTO Glaskracht has criticised the €23m fine slapped on several bell pepper and onion growers for cartel forming.
The competition authority NMa fined two cooperatives - UWG and Rainbow - €14m for keeping pepper prices artificially high. Together, they control some 30% of the Dutch bell pepper production.
LTO Glaskracht said in a statement it did not believe consumers had paid too high prices for bell peppers. In addition, the Netherlands has 300 growers and it is 'unlikely two or three of them could influence prices', spokesman Nico van Ruiten said.
Farmers have been selling under cost price for yeas and that is a good reason to work together, Van Ruiten said. It is also unclear what the rules are from an EU perspective.
The silverskin onion growers were fined for making agreements to limit production between 1998 and 2010 in an effort to drive up prices. The five companies are responsible for some 70% of European silverskin onion production, the NMa said.