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Spain’s Dairy Cartel ‘Milking It In’

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National Court Upholds CNMC's Findings on Dairy Cartel Spain

The National Court Of Spain Upholds The National Competition Market’s Commission Findings

Spain’s Dairy Cartel Uncovered

The National Court has upheld the Resolution issued by the National Competition Market Commission (CNMC) in July 2019, confirming that eight dairy companies and two associations colluded in forming a cartel and exchanged sensitive commercial data. The ruling solidifies the evidence of price and commercial information exchanges among competing dairy firms, facilitated through the two main associations under investigation.

In a detailed breakdown, the Court has affirmed fines imposed on several companies involved in Spain’s Dairy Cartel : Calidad Pascual faces a penalty of 8.5 million euros, Central Lechera Galicia 53,310 euros, Grupo Lactalis Iberia 11.6 million euros, Nestlé 6.8 million euros, and Schreiber Food España 929,644 euros.

However, the Court partially granted appeals from four other companies – Comercial Alimentaria Peñasanta, Danone, Industrias Lácteas Granada (Puleva), and Asociación de Empresas Lácteas de Galicia. It ruled that some of the investigated periods had expired under the statute of limitations, directing the CNMC to recalibrate sanctions accordingly.

Overall, the Sixth Section of Litigation confirms severe violations of competition laws committed by the companies between 2000 and 2013, in accordance with Law 15/2007 and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The involvement of ranchers is also noted, with the court confirming contacts with farmers aimed at strategizing or sharing information on milk surpluses management.

The evidence analyzed indicates that the exchange of information among companies during the infringement period reduced uncertainty, thereby diminishing competition and the bargaining power of ranchers. The Chamber concludes that the primary aim was to control the raw cow’s milk supply market, constituting a continuous infringement, notwithstanding the varying degrees of involvement among the companies.

In light of this ruling, livestock farmers will now be able to confidently exercise their right to claim compensation for the damages suffered all these years. Amounts could well exceed € 1 billion for the sector as a whole.

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