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European Commission fines U.S. Oreo-maker Mondelez $365M

The European Commission fined Oreo-maker Mondelez $365 million on Thursday. File Photo by Orestis Panagiotou/EPA-EFE
The European Commission fined Oreo-maker Mondelez $365 million on Thursday. File Photo by Orestis Panagiotou/EPA-EFE

May 23 (UPI) -- The European Commission on Thursday fined the maker of Oreo and Ritz crackers for more than $365 million for hindering the cross-border trade of chocolate, cookie and coffee products between its members in violation of market competition rules.

The commission accused United States-based Mondelez International of "anti-competitive agreements and concerted practices" by abusing its position and the world's largest producer of chocolates and cookie products.

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Mondelez entered into 22 anti-competitive agreements that limited the territories or customers to which seven wholesale customers could resell Mondelez products. The commission said one agreement included a provision demanding that Mondelez customers apply higher prices for exports compared to domestic sales.

In other instances, Mondelez ordered some traders and distributors not to sell in certain EU member states. The commission pointed to an incident where Mondelez refused to supply a broker in Germany to prevent the resale of chocolate tablets in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and Romania.

The commission said that and similar examples violated commission rules in trading with member states.

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president in charge of competition policy for the European Commission, said in the end, customers throughout the bloc were hit with higher prices.

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"Prices for food differ between member states," Vestager said in a statement. "Trade over borders of member states in the internal market can lower prices and increase the availability of products for consumers. This is especially important in times of high inflation.

"In today's decision, we find that Mondelez illegally limited cross-border sales across the E.U. Mondelez did so to maintain higher prices for its products to the detriment of consumers."

According to its website, Mondelez which is also the home of brands Clif Bar and Tate's Bake Shop cookies made $36 billion in net revenues in 2023.

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