Dole Food Co. has said it will appeal at the European Court of Justice over the EU’s decision to fine the fresh produce giant for anti-competitive practices.

The US-based group was fined in 2008 by the European Commission for allegedly sharing information with other EU banana importers ten years ago.

Yesterday, the EU General Court upheld the EUR45.6m (US$59.6m) fine, prompting Dole to announce it will take its case to Luxembourg.

“The General Court’s decision treats discussions about general market conditions the same as a price-fixing cartel,” said Dole president and COO Michael Carter. “We strongly believe that the European competition laws were not violated and we will appeal this decision to the EU Court of Justice.”

The court, meanwhile, reduced the fine imposed on Fresh Del Monte Produce, which then controlled an importer, Weichert, which was also accused of price-fixing. After an appeal by the company, the fine was lowered from EUR14.7m to EUR8.8m.

Dole, Fresh Del Monte and Chiquita Brands International were said by the Commission to have fixed banana prices in eight EU markets between 2000 and 2002. Chiquita was given immunity from fines after providing information that allowed the Commission to open the investigation..