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April 4, 2008

SPAIN: Food price-fixing probe launched

Large swathes of the Spanish food industry are facing a probe into allegations of price-fixing amid rising inflation in the country.

Large swathes of the Spanish food industry are facing a probe into allegations of price-fixing amid rising inflation in the country.

Spain’s competition watchdog, the CNC, has launched an enquiry after investigating a number of companies and associations in the food sector last autumn.

The CNC said its investigations had been prompted by the “upward trend” in food prices in Spain and that the enquiry would focus on the pricing of bread, chicken and eggs.

“In light of the information analysed and, especially, the many statements from the business associations in the sector, we estimate that they may constitute practices contrary to the Defence of Competition act,” the CNC said. “Namely that they may be designed or indeed restrict, limit or prevent competition.”

Consumer bodies in Spain supported the launch of the enquiry, which could last up to 18 months.

Consumer watchdog ASGECO said it had been warning for “many months” about rising inflation in Spain and said the largest increases had come from food and “fresh foods in particular”.

The association for Spanish bakers, the PPM, refused to be drawn on the enquiry. “We have no comment to make,” the PPM told just-food.

Officials at Propollo, the country’s poultry industry trade body, and at umbrella industry body the Food and Beverage Industry Federation could not be reached for immediate comment.

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