Following five years of investigation on antitrust rules, Coca-Cola and the European Commission have struck a deal, which should increase consumer choice over soft drinks in shops and at cafés.
Coca-Cola has promised to end its practice of forcing retailers to sign "exclusivity arrangements," which so far have kept many rivals away from shops and bars. In future, shops will also not have to buy Coca-Cola’s less popular products, like Sprite or Vanilla Coke, in order to be able to sell its main products such as Coke regular or Fanta Orange. Consumers will be in a "position to choose on the basis of price and personal preferences rather than pick up a Coca-Cola product because it’s the only one on offer," said Competition Commissioner Mario Monti. The antitrust investigation was launched five years ago, when rival company Pepsi complained about Coca Cola's sales practices. Coca-Cola clearly dominates the European market, while Pepsi has been left with an estimated 10 percent market share. If Coca-Cola were to breach the commitment decision later, a fine could be imposed, the Commission warned. (EUobserver.com)