Firms Fined In Sausage Price-Fixing Scandal
The latest price-fixing scandal to hit Germany has seen 21 companies fined a total of ?338m (£270m) for collusion on pricing its national dish - the humble sausage.
The country's Federal Cartel Office (FCO), fresh from slapping a similar penalty on 10 breweries and three sugar producers earlier this year, said it had found evidence of anti-competitive practice in the sausage sector going back years, leading to higher shop prices.
The national competition watchdog said: "Numerous statements and documentation prove that there was a 'fundamental understanding' to agree regularly on requests for price increases."
In addition to the companies involved, including Herta, the watchdog also levelled penalties against 33 individuals.
It charted pricing activity among firms and company officials on the sidelines of an annual sausage industry summit.
The FCO explained that sausage makers had met legitimately for decades, but found some members were also conducting discussions and agreements over pricing - often in private phone calls.
In its latest annual report, which was published last week, the cartel office said it expected to issue a record number of fines for anti-competitive behaviour this year.
Already in February, the watchdog fined three large sugar producers - Pfeifer & Langen, Suedzucker and Nordzucker - ?280m (£220m) for price-fixing.
The breweries were fined more than ?300m (£238m) at the beginning of the year for fixing beer prices between 2006 and 2008.