Seven UK supermarkets have filed for compensation over a supposed cartel in the Atlantic farmed salmon sector.

Aldi, Asda, Morrisons, Marks and Spencer, Ocado, Iceland Foods and The Co-op submitted the lawsuit against 13 seafood farming groups.

The seafood companies include Norway’s Lerøy Seafood and Grieg Seafood and their respective UK arms, plus Bremnes Seashore, Cermaq, SalMar, as well as Mowi and its UK branches.

The businesses are alleged to have had a cartel in place for farmed Atlantic salmon between 2011 and 2019, Stephenson Harwood, the legal group managing the case, confirmed to Just Food.

Retailers estimated a loss of £675m (£858.8m) as a result of the alleged cartel.

The financial impact is believed to have “extended downstream through the supply chain”, affecting “secondary processed products” made from the fish, “such as smoked or frozen salmon and ready to eat salmon products”.

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The Competition Appeal Tribunal received the notice of the claim last month.

The retailers have claimed the actions of the businesses mark a breach of the national Competition Act, as well as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the European Economic Area Agreement until December 2020.

All seven retailers declined to provide further information at the time of writing.

Just Food has also contacted Lerøy Seafood, Grieg Seafood, Cermaq and Mowi for comment.

In a statement, Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are committed to delivering the best prices for their customers and if there is a suggestion that suppliers are preventing them from delivering that, they will always take appropriate action to challenge that approach.”

In February 2019, the European Commission (EC) launched an investigation into the Norwegian salmon farming groups mentioned over a breach of antitrust regulations.

In January of this year, the EC’s preliminary findings concluded the businesses had violated competition laws “by colluding to distort competition in the market for spot sales of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon in the EU”.

According to the claim summary, “it is anticipated that the EC investigation will culminate in due course by one or more infringement decision(s)”.

The US Department of Justice also launched an investigation into Grieg, Lerøy, Salmar and Mowi in February 2019 over price-fixing. They were cleared of any wrongdoing in January 2023.