EUROPE – Mondelez International, the renowned maker of Chips Ahoy, is facing potential fines from the EU Commission for purportedly limiting the sale of its products across member states of the bloc. 

Reports from the Financial Times, citing insider sources familiar with the matter, suggest that the penalty could be issued as soon as next month.

The Commission has reportedly uncovered evidence indicating that the company has violated antitrust regulations, although the exact amount of the fine remains undisclosed.

An investigation into Mondelez’s trade practices involving chocolate, biscuits, and coffee within EU member states was initiated by Brussels back in January 2021.

The Commission’s concerns revolve around Mondelez’s alleged restriction of ‘parallel trade’, wherein products are purchased in one country at a lower price and resold in another where prices are higher.

Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager highlighted that the probe aims to assess whether Mondelez’s actions have impeded free competition and led to inflated prices for consumers.

In response to inquiries regarding the Financial Times report, a Mondelez spokesperson confirmed the initiation of the investigation in 2021. The company stated its cooperation with the Commission and expressed a commitment to resolving the matter.

The Commission, however, refrained from providing any comments on the situation.

Last February, Mondelez estimated that the antitrust inquiry could incur costs of up to €300m ($318m). However, the company acknowledged that the final amount could potentially exceed this figure due to the uncertainties surrounding the investigation.

Mondelez emphasized the inherent ambiguity of the discussions and the range of possible outcomes that could influence the ultimate financial impact on the company.

The looming fines underscore the heightened scrutiny faced by multinational corporations operating within the EU, as regulatory bodies continue to monitor and enforce competition laws to ensure fair market practices and consumer protection.

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