Banana cartel allegations resurface

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 18th December 2009

The EU is investigating an alleged banana cartel in southern Europe – a year after finding companies including Dole Food Co. and Chiquita Brands International guilty of price-fixing in the north of the continent.

The European Commission said that it has issued a “statement of objections” to “a number of companies active in the import and marketing of bananas” over claims of a cartel.

The parties concerned, which according to a Commission spokesperson cannot be identified, can reply in writing or request an oral hearing.

Yesterday, Dole issued a statement that insisted it was not involved in these latest cartel allegations.

“Throughout the investigation preceding the issuance of the statement of objections, Dole cooperated with the European Commission in its inquiries, while maintaining that it had not violated European competition law,” the company said.

Last year, Dole agreed to pay a EUR45.6m (US$65.5m) fine in instalments for its role in a price-fixing cartel in northern Europe.

The Commission said Dole was among the companies that had formed a cartel to fix banana prices in eight EU markets, including Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The European Commission fined banana importers Dole and Weichert a total of EUR60.3m after ruling that the two companies – alongside Chiquita Brands International – broke EU laws on price fixing.

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