BREAKING – Norway’s salmon ‘big six’ did violate rules, says EU

raw salmon fish on the ice

The European Commission believes that six leading Norwegian salmon producers breached EU anti-trust rules by colluding to distort competition in the market for spot sales of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon in the EU.

The Commission has advised the producers concerned that this is its “preliminary” view.

The companies named are Mowi, SalMar, Grieg Seafood, Bremnes Seashore, Leroy and Cermaq.

The Commission said in a statement today that it has concerns that, between 2011 and 2019, the six salmon producers, exchanged commercially sensitive information, relating to sales prices, available volumes, sales volumes, production volumes and production capacities, as well as other price-setting factors.

The suspected aim of this alleged conduct was to reduce normal uncertainty in the market for spot sales of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon into the EU.

The alleged anticompetitive conduct only concerns sales on the spot market for export to the EU, as opposed to sales based on long-term contracts.

Spot sales are those for which prices, volumes and other sales conditions are agreed per sale, based on the market conditions on the day of the sale.

Norway accounts for over half of the production of farmed Atlantic salmon worldwide and the EU is its main importer.

Five years ago, when the UK was a member of the EU, European Commission officials raided the Scottish offices of a number of Norwegian-owned producers.

Scotland was the focus of the raid at the time because Norway is not in the EU and the Commission’s powers there are very limited.

The alleged conduct concerns sales of fresh, whole and gutted Atlantic salmon farmed in Norway, which accounts for nearly 80% of all farmed Atlantic salmon exported from Norway.

It does not concern frozen farmed Atlantic salmon or processed products such as salmon fillets, loins, or smoked salmon.

If the Commission’s preliminary view is confirmed, this conduct would infringe Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’), which prohibits cartels and other restrictive business practices.

The sending of a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of an investigation, says the Commission.

The six companies have yet to respond.

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