French 'yoghurt cartel' fined for fixing prices

12th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Things turned sour on Thursday for eleven French dairy product companies when France's competition watchdog slapped them with 192.7 million euros ($204.2 million) in fines for fixing prices.

The fines imposed on the "highly organised cartel" -- among them Senagral, Novandis, and Lactalis -- is one of the highest since the inception of the competition authority, its vice-president Thierry Dahan told a news conference.

The cartel operated between 2006 and 2012 and was accused of agreeing to set wholesale prices for various fresh dairy products in a bid to divvy up the market among themselves.

The Lactalis Nestle group which received the largest portion of the fine -- 56.1 million euros -- said it will appeal the "extremely severe" decision.

The Yoplait group managed to escape being sanctioned under a clemency procedure, since it had been the first to report the cartel's activities.

France is a big consumer of fresh dairy products with supermarket shelves stocked to the brim with a range of yoghurts, fresh cheese known as fromage blanc, and milk-based deserts.

© 2015 AFP

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