Paris (AFP)

Twelve industrialists are sanctioned to the tune of 93 million euros in total for having formed a "cartel" in order to agree on the prices of ham and cured meats between 2010 and 2013, announced Thursday the Competition Authority.

"The manufacturers concerned (the + pork butchers +) coordinated to buy cheaper pieces of ham from the slaughterers and / or also agreed on the price increases for the pork products that they intended to practice with the brands of the mass distribution, for their private labels ("private label" or "first price"), "said the Competition Authority in a press release.

The strongest penalty (35.5 million euros) is aimed at the French leader in pork production, the Cooperl cooperative, which has six sites involved in the production of cured meats.

This is followed by the distribution group Les Mousquetaires (Intermarché, Netto), which also manufactures products under its own brands such as Monique Ranou (31.7 million euros fine), and the Fleury Michon group (nearly 14.8 million fine).

"The agreements concerned a large number of everyday consumer products (raw ham, cooked ham, sausages, rosette, chorizo, etc.)", underlines the Competition Authority.

The Authority notes: "The agreements implemented by the delicatessen manufacturers concerned both + the upstream +, that is to say the relations of the manufacturers with the slaughterers who supplied the raw material, and + the downstream +, that is to say relations with their customers of large distribution ".

"By secretly exchanging on the positions to be adopted before their negotiations, the delicatessen manufacturers imposed a mode of organization which replaced the free play of competition and which removed from the interested parties any uncertainty about the behavior of their competitors", denounces l 'Authority.

The practices uncovered "were notably revealed thanks to the leniency procedure, which allows companies that participated in a cartel to disclose its existence to the Authority and to obtain, under certain conditions, the benefit of total or partial exemption from financial penalty, "she said.

"In the present case, two groups, Campofrio and Coop, applied for leniency and provided materials for the investigation," it said. They were also sanctioned, up to one million and six million euros respectively.

© 2020 AFP