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ACM fines natural-vinegar manufacturers for cartel agreements

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has imposed fines on two manufacturers of natural vinegar (also known as white or distilled vinegar), which are Kühne and Burg, for having made cartel arrangements. Burg is imposed a fine of EUR 1.8 million. Kühne escapes a fine of EUR 4.6 million because it had notified ACM of these arrangements, and it closely cooperated with the investigation. The fines have been lowered by 10 percent because both Kühne and Burg have acknowledged the violation. The violation lasted from 2001 through 2012.

Natural vinegar is a product that manufacturers use in various consumer products such as sauces, salads, and pickles (or gherkins). Kühne and Burg made arrangements about the offers they gave to multiple clients that produce these types of food products. They also exchanged price and production information.

Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of the Board of ACM, adds: “As these two manufacturers of natural vinegar had made cartel arrangements about the offers they gave to several clients, they were not competing with one another. This is a very serious cartel. And that is why we have imposed heavy fines.”

Fines on individual employees

In this case, ACM has also imposed fines on individuals employed with Burg who were involved in the cartel arrangements. These individuals oversaw the implementation of the arrangements. They worked in various positions at different levels within the organization. The two employees of Burg have been imposed fines of EUR 16,000 and EUR 54,000. In the case of Kühne, three individuals exercised leadership over the cartel arrangements. These three individuals have escaped fines varying between EUR 22,500 and EUR 135,000.