Unilever, Bonduelle and 13 other agri-food players sanctioned for cartel

Unilever, Bonduelle and 13 other agri-food players sanctioned for cartel

The French Competition Authority announced this Thursday that it had sanctioned 19.5 million euros to 15 agri-food players, including the British giant Unilever, for having agreed between 2010 and 2015 not to communicate “on the presence or absence of bisphenol A” in their cans and cans.

Banned in France since 2015 in food containers, bisphenol A (BPA) is considered by the French Food Safety Agency (ANSES) as an endocrine disruptor and is suspected of being linked to multiple disorders and illnesses. (breast cancer, infertility, etc.)

Business objective

According to the authority, the actors involved wanted, in their own words, “to avoid causing consumer mistrust” and agreed “not to use the absence of Bisphenol A as a commercial argument that could have (. ..) ‘completely destabilize the value chain’.

The objective of this agreement was to “prevent manufacturers from communicating about the absence of BPA in their food containers” and “to encourage manufacturers to refuse to deliver boxes without Bisphenol A before its ban in France, then to “stop marketing canned foods with Bisphenol A after this date”.

19 million euros fine

The authority sanctioned three professional canner organizations, as well as the French union of can manufacturers. “Eleven companies, prosecuted as members of these organizations, are also sanctioned, the cumulative amount of sanctions reaching nearly 20 million euros”, specifies the press release.

These are the French “canners” Andros, Bonduelle, Charles et Alice, Cofigeo, Conserves France, D’Aucy, the American group General Mills, and Unilever, as well as the Irish “can suppliers” Ardagh, American Crown and French Massilly.

“The four professional organizations concerned as well as the eleven member companies are sanctioned for a total amount of 19,553,400 euros,” summarizes the Competition Authority. “These practices, together, constitute a single complex and continuous offense (IUCC) implemented from October 6, 2010 to July 21, 2015, i.e. over more than four years,” it is specified.

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