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EUR 337.5 Million Fine Imposed on Mondelez International for Anticompetitive Behaviour

EUR 337.5 Million Fine Imposed on Mondelez International for Anticompetitive Behaviour

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The European Commission has imposed a hefty EUR 337.5 million fine on Mondelēz International, Inc., the world-famous producer of Oreo, Milka and Toblerone, for restricting cross-border trade of chocolate, biscuits, and coffee products among EU Member States, in violation of EU competition regulations.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, during the press conference stressed out that this case is a key concern to European citizens, as it is about the price of groceries “in times of very high inflation, where many are in a cost-of-living crisis”.

The European Commission’s investigation, which began in November 2019 with unannounced inspections at Mondelēz premises in Austria, Belgium, and Germany, led to formal proceedings against Mondelēz in January 2021. Three years later, in May 2024, the European Commission concluded that Mondelēz had breached EU competition rules: (i) by entering into anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices aimed at restricting cross-border trade, and (ii) by abusing its dominant position in certain national markets for the sale of chocolate tablets. In other words, the European Commission has found out that Mondelēz, breached both Articles 101 and 102 TFEU.

The EUR 337.5 million fine was determined based on the severity and duration of the infringements, as well as the value of Mondelēz’s sales. Mondelēz received a 15% reduction in the fine for cooperating with the Commission and acknowledging its liability.

Anticompetitive Agreements

Mondelēz engaged in 22 anticompetitive agreements between 2012 and 2019. Specifically, Mondelēz restricted seven wholesale customers (so called traders/brokers) from reselling its products across other territories. One agreement even included a provision obliging Mondelēz’s wholesale customer to apply higher prices for exports compared to domestic sales. Furthermore, the European Commission determined that Mondelēz prevented ten exclusive distributors from fulfilling sales requests from other Member States without its prior approval. These practices spanned from 2006 to 2020 and covered the entire EU market.

These parallel trade restrictions isolated national markets, allowing Mondelēz to charge higher prices for its products, which detrimentally impacted consumers and reduced product diversity.

Dominant Position Abuse

The European Commission found that Mondelēz, between 2015 and 2019, abused its dominant position in certain national markets for the sale of chocolate tablets. Specifically, Mondelēz refused to supply a broker in Germany to prevent the resale of chocolate tablets in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Romania, where prices were higher. Additionally, Mondelēz ceased supplying chocolate tablets in the Netherlands to prevent their import into Belgium, where it charged higher prices.

These practices prevented retailers from sourcing products in lower-priced Member States, artificially segmenting the internal market and enabling Mondelēz to maintain higher prices, ultimately harming EU consumers. 

The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.

By Bojana Miljanovic Hussey and Bojan Vuckovic, Partners, and Sanja Dedovic, Associate, Karanovic & Partners

Serbia Knowledge Partner

SOG in cooperation with Kinstellar is a full-service business law firm in Serbia that provides foreign and domestic clients with premium-quality legal advice and assistance across a wide range of key areas of corporate law. The firm was founded in 2015 by a group of seasoned, internationally-trained lawyers. SOG has developed a distinctively dynamic culture, bringing together top talent, fostering entrepreneurship, and maintaining exceptional relationships with its clients.

SOG has achieved consistent growth in the volume of its business, accompanied by an exponential increase in the number of hired associate lawyers and the firm’s network of business contacts. SOG has a robust client base of multinationals, investment and private equity firms, and financial institutions. Clients praise SOG for being commercially minded, very responsive and knowledgeable.

Establishing permanent cooperation with Kinstellar is part of realising SOG's long-term development strategy to be the leading provider of legal services in the Western Balkans market.

Firm's website: https://www.kinstellar.com/

 

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