Action urged on food firm cross border deals that push up prices

Photo: Depositphotos

The Netherlands is one of eight EU countries that want to stop food producers and wholesalers from making deals to stop supermarkets shopping over the border where goods might be cheaper. 

The countries concerned say the deals lead to higher prices in their domestic markets, limit choice and reduce margins for retailers. They now want the EU to ban such practices.

Economic affairs minister Micky Adriaansens, who will discuss the issue with her EU counterparts on Friday, has taken the lead on the campaign for change and says such agreements go against the single market principle.

“We are now proposing a concrete ban on territory-based delivery restrictions by amending or extending EU legislation,” she said. “Talks with other ministers show that even more EU member states recognise the problem. So I am confident that the new European Commission, can quickly get to work on this with broad support.”

On Thursday US chocolate company Mondelēz was fined €337.5 million by the European Commission for hindering the cross-border trade of chocolate, biscuits and coffee products between countries, in breach of EU competition rules.

In particular, the company “stopped the supply of chocolate tablet products in the Netherlands to prevent them from being imported into Belgium, where Mondelēz was selling these products at higher prices”.

EU research suggests that such deals cost EU consumers some €14 billion a year. And research by the Dutch economic affairs ministry suggests the wholesale price for one in 25 goods in Dutch supermarkets is inflated by as much as 10% because of the agreements

All seven big Dutch supermarket chains, including Jumbo and Albert Heijn, told the Dutch researchers last year that they cannot by A-brand goods in other EU countries. 

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