German sausage makers in meaty fine over price-fixing

Variety of German sausages Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Germans have been paying too much for their bratwurst

The manufacturers of one of Germany's most famous foodstuffs are facing a hefty fine for running a price cartel beginning as far back as 2003.

The Federal Cartel Office has imposed a 338m euro ($460m; £268m) fine on the group of 21 sausage manufacturers and 33 individuals responsible.

The companies involved include Meica, Boeklunder, Wiesenhof and Nestle subsidiary Herta.

The authorities said they were tipped off by an anonymous informant.

'Atlantic Circle'

"The total fine appears high at first glance, but it needs to be viewed against the backdrop of the large number of businesses that participated, the length of operation of the cartel, and the billions in revenue they are aiming to make in the market," said Andreas Mundt, the president of the Cartel Office.

Sausage makers had been holding regular "Atlantic Circle" gatherings over decades to discuss market developments and prices, named after the first place they met, the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg, the authorities said.

But since 2003, the discussions had evolved into "concrete agreements [and a] collective raising of prices".

Eleven of the companies involved admitted wrongdoing and co-operated with the authorities.

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