Germany's largest sausage makers fined €338m for price-fixing

The Federal Cartel Office said the £268m fine will be shared among 33 individuals and 21 companies

Germany’s competition regulator has squeezed a €338m (£268m) fine out of the country’s largest sausage makers for colluding on prices.

The Federal Cartel Office said the fine will be shared among 33 individuals and 21 companies including Nestlé’s subsidiary Herta and other major names such as Meica and Wiesenhof.

Dubbed the “Atlantic Circle” cartel, after the Hamburg hotel where the group met, the producers have been accused of colluding for more than 10 years to push through higher prices and agreeing on price ranges for various products. The watchdog was tipped off by an anonymous informant.

“Price-fixing discussions were conducted for years,” said Federal Cartel president Andreas Mundt.

“At first glance, the total sum seems high but it is less so relative to the number of companies involved, how long the cartel went on, and the billions in turnover the companies made on the market.”

The fine is hugely significant in a country like Germany, which is famed for its love of sausages. According to the German Meat Association, some 5 million tonnes of pork were produced in the country last year, compared to 3.9m tonnes in 2001.

The FCA said that 11 of the companies have admitted wrongdoing in return for smaller fines. However, the Zur-Mühlen-Gruppe, which owns the Böklunder and Könecke labels, said it plans to contest the fines.

The German regulator has so far handed out €900m in fines this year, compared to €240m in 2013. The beer and sugar industries are among those already hit.

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