Cartel Digest

Bananas 1

Bananas 1
  Overall Cartel Period 2000-2002
  Participants Dole Food Co., Inc.; Internationale Fruchtimport Gesellschaft Weichert & Co. KG and Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc.; Chiquita Brands International Inc.
  Total Fines (DOJ) No fines imposed
  Total Fines (EC) €60.3 million

In April 2005, the European Commission (“EC”) conducted inspections at the premises of several major importers of “fresh bananas,” which can be purchased year round either unripened (green) or ripened (yellow).  The banana cartel affected eight EU member countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden (in which total banana sales amounted to approximately €2.5 billion during 2002).  According to the EC, between 2000 and 2002, banana importers coordinated their prices through bilateral phone calls on a weekly basis, usually the day before prices were set.   

 

Enforcement Highlights:

  • Three companies operating the cartel were collectively fined over €60 million. Chiquita was granted immunity from fines for revealing the cartel to the EC.
  • The EC reduced the fines for members of the cartel after finding that the regulatory regime for the banana market was a mitigating circumstance.
Europe
Company Fine Date
Dole Food Co., Inc. € 45.6 million 10/15/2008
Internationale Fruchtimport Gesellschaft Weichert & Co. KG and Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. € 14.7 million 10/15/2008
Chiquita Brands International Inc. Immunity 10/15/2008