Jan 3

Antitrust: cheaper imports of beer into Belgium

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The European Commission has informed Anheuser – Bush InBev on November 30, 2017 of its preliminary view that the company has abused its dominant position on the Belgian beer market, by hindering cheaper imports of its Jupiler and Leffe beers from the Netherlands and France into Belgium.
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (AB InBev) is the world’s biggest beer brewer, with a very strong position on the Belgian beer market. Its most popular beer brands in Belgium are Jupiler and Leffe. AB InBev also sells these last two brands in the Netherlands and France. The Commission’s investigation has shown that in these two countries AB InBev sells Jupiler and Leffe at lower prices than in Belgium due to the increased competition it faces there. The Commission’s preliminary view, outlined in its Statement of Objections, is that AB InBev is dominant on the Belgian beer market.
In particular, the Commission is concerned by a number of AB InBev business practices, which have been in place since at least 2009 :
• AB InBev changed the packaging of Jupiler and Leffe beer cans in the Netherlands and France to make it harder to sell them in Belgium ;
• AB InBev limited access of Dutch retailers to key products and promotions, in order to prevent them from bringing less expensive beer products to Belgium ;
The Commission’s preliminary view is that these practices have created anti-competitive obstacles to trade and partitioned the EU’s Single Market along national borders. If confirmed, this would infringe Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position.
The sending of a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation