German sausage makers fined for cooking up a price cartel

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German sausage makers fined for cooking up a price cartel

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Twenty-one German sausage makers have been fined a total of nearly 340 million euros for years of price-fixing.

Germany’s competition regulator said representatives of major firms had met regularly for decades to discuss the market and agreed among themselves to make supermarkets pay higher prices.

The Federal Cartel Office launched an investigation after receiving an anonymous tip-off.

Eleven of the companies cooperated with authorities and admitted wrongdoing.

The companies – and 33 individuals – who were fined have two weeks to appeal against the decision.

The hundreds of different types of sausage found on German supermarket shelves – such as salami, Bavarian weisswurst or liverwurst – are a household staple, with average annual consumption at about 30 kg per person.

Cartel office chairman Andreas Mundt said: “The total fine seems high at first glance but is put in perspective if you consider the large number of companies involved, the duration of the cartel and billions of euros of revenues the sector generates.”

According to the German meat industry association, sausage production eased by 1.1 percent to 1.46 million tonnes last year, but the sector’s sales grew to 6.9 billion euros as prices rose by 3.4 percent. In 2012, sausage prices rose 5.2 percent.

The fines on the sausage makers, ranged from a few hundred thousand euros to multi-million euro sums.

with Reuters and AFP