Pacific Fruit fined in banana cartel, Chiquita slips by

12.10.2011 - 14:24

The European Commission adopted a decision concluding that the Chiquita and Pacific Fruit groups have operated a price fixing cartel in Southern Europe from July 2004 to April 2005, affecting consumers in Italy, Greece, and Portugal. This is in clear violation of Article 101 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) of the antitrust rules, which ban cartels and restrictive business practices.

Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said: "Companies need to be aware that the Commission takes its anti-cartel enforcement duties very seriously. There are only two ways to avoid a fine: refrain from joining a cartel or, if you have fallen for it, repent rapidly and inform the Commission about it.”

The Commission imposed a fine of €8.9 million on Pacific Fruit. Chiquita received immunity from fines under the Commission's leniency programme. Chiquita provided it with information that led to the decision adopted by the Commission.

The cartel was operated by Pacific Fruit and Chiquita, two of the main importers and sellers of bananas in the EU. During the period July 2004–April 2005, they exchanged price information and fixed weekly sales prices in relation to their respective brands. By doing so, they directly harmed consumers in the countries concerned, which goes against Article 101 TFEU.

At the time of the infringement, annual banana sales in Italy, Greece and Portugal together amounted to an estimated €525m.