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EU Commission fines Oreo maker Mondelez 337.5 million euros for blocking cross-border sales

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission has imposed a fine of 337.5 million euros ($366 million) on food company Mondelez, the owner of Oreo cookies and other snack brands, for obstructing sales of its products between EU member states, the bloc's executive arm said on Thursday.

Mondelez owns the Cadbury and Toblerone chocolate brands as well as Oreo and Chips Ahoy cookies, Triscuit crackers and Perfect Snacks nutrition bars.

The Commission said Mondelez tried to avoid that cross-border trade because that could lead to lower prices. It said this harmed consumers who end up paying more for chocolate, biscuits and coffee.

“Such illegal practices allowed Mondelez to continue charging more for its own products, to the ultimate detriment of consumers in the EU,” it said.

The Chicago-based candy and snack company breached EU competition rules “by engaging in anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices aimed at restricting cross-border trade of various chocolate, biscuit and coffee products,” the Commission said. “And by abusing its dominant position in certain national markets for the sale of chocolate tablets.”

European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said the case was about the price of groceries, which is a particularly important concern for Europeans at a time of high inflation.

“It is also about the heart of the European project: the free movement of goods in the single market,” Vestager said.

According to the EU's executive branch, the company engaged in 22 anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices.

According to the EU, one agreement included a provision ordering Mondelez’ customers to apply higher prices for exports compared to domestic sales. The Commission added that Mondelez prevented ten exclusive distributors based in the 27-nation bloc from answering sale requests from customers in other EU countries without prior authorization from the company.

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