EU Commission suspects Mowi, Cermaq, Grieg, Leroy and SalMar of violating antitrust rules

Matthew Wilcox

The EU’s concerns centre on the period between 2011 and 2019.

The European Commission has issued a preliminary view to six Norwegian salmon producers – Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, Bremnes, Lerøy, Mowi, and SalMar – suggesting they may have violated EU antitrust rules.

The Commission’s concerns, centered on the period between 2011 and 2019, involve alleged collusion to distort competition in the EU market for spot sales of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon, according to a statement from the EU on Thursday.

According to the Commission, the companies are suspected of exchanging commercially sensitive information including sales prices, volumes, and production capacities, potentially aiming to reduce market uncertainty for spot sales of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon in the EU. This alleged conduct reportedly pertains solely to spot market sales, as opposed to long-term contract sales.

Norway, accounting for over half of the world’s farmed Atlantic salmon production, primarily exports to the EU. The suspected anticompetitive behavior is believed to affect sales of fresh, whole, and gutted Atlantic salmon, which constitute nearly 80% of Norway’s salmon exports. The investigation does not encompass frozen farmed salmon or processed products like fillets or smoked salmon.

Mowi contests EU Commission’s antitrust allegations in salmon cartel case

If the Commission’s preliminary view is confirmed, such practices could constitute a breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits cartels and other restrictive business practices.

The issuance of a Statement of Objections is a formal step in the Commission’s investigations and does not prejudge the outcome. The parties concerned will have the opportunity to examine the Commission’s evidence, respond in writing, and request an oral hearing.

The duration of this antitrust investigation remains uncertain, depending on various factors including the case’s complexity and the degree of cooperation from the companies involved. The Commission has previously conducted major investigations into cartels in the agri-food sector, imposing fines on suppliers in different categories.

Further details on this case, numbered AT.40606, will be available on the Commission’s competition website, where information on actions against cartels and reporting mechanisms for suspicious behavior can also be found.


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