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Business

Coffee companies fined millions for price-fixing

Eight of Germany's most recognized coffee companies have been fined a total of 30 million euros for price-fixing. The country's competition regulator said the companies coordinated prices for ten years.

A hand full of coffee beans

Authorities say the companies illegally agreed on prices

Germany's Federal Cartel Office announced on Wednesday that it was fining eight German coffee companies or their local subsidiaries a total of 30 million euros ($35.9 million) for illegally fixing the price of wholesale coffee sold to bulk customers such as restaurants, hotels and automatic coffee machine companies.

The authorities say the heads of Tchibo, Darboven, Melitta, Kraft Foods, Seeberger, Westhoff, Lavazza and Segafredo Zanetti met from 1997 through mid-2008 to agree on price increases or cuts.

"Coordinated price increases for consumer goods such as coffee have a direct impact on consumers' wallets," said Andreas Mundt, head of the competition office.

"Cartels appear in all kinds of industries. They are highly damaging to society and therefore have to be rigorously prosecuted."

In addition to the eight companies, the German Coffee Association and ten of its employees were also fined up to 90,000 euros. Melitta and Darboven had their fines reduced for cooperation, while the Munich-based Dallmayr sidestepped a fine altogether for voluntarily reporting its role in the price-fixing to the authorities.

In December, Tchibo, Melitta and the Munich-based Dallmayr were already fined for the price-fixing of coffee products for the retail sector.

Author: Holly Fox (AFP/AP/dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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