Italian watchdog launches wine bottle cartel investigation
The Italian competition authority, the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), has launched an investigation into a possible cartel among manufacturers of wine bottles.
According to the investigation, firms including the Berlin Packaging Italy Authority, Bormioli Luigi, O-I Italy, Verallia Italia, Vetreria Cooperativa Piegarese, Vetreria Etrusca, Vetri Speciali, Vetropack Italia and Zignago Vetro would have coordinated to define the price increases of glass bottles for wine.
Officials from the authority, with the help of the Special Antitrust Unit of the Guardia di Finanza, carried out inspections at the main headquarters of the companies involved, and other subjects deemed to be in possession of useful elements for the investigation, including Assovetro, the National Association of Glass Industry.
A statement from the AGCM said that the authority had received reports of the possible cartel, including some of which it received through its whistleblowing platform.
The Competition and Market Authority, thanks to some of these reports, then initiated the investigation against the firms for this alleged restrictive agreement of competition in the sale of glass bottles. Complaints happened this year from Filiera Italia, which protects “Made in Italy” products, Prosecco producer Bottega, as well as an anonymous whistleblower.
According to the whisteblower, different bottle producers wrote letters of the price rises in March and September last year, which included similar language, and almost identical rises.
The statement said the companies would have coordinated, “at least from 2022”, and that customers had the price of glass bottles increased within the same time frame across manufacturers.
It said: “This coordination could be the result of an agreement or an agreed practice to avoid competitive comparison between the main players in the sector.”
Some of the firms under investigation are part of some of the world’s largest producers of food and beverage packaging. Veralli Italia, for example, is the local arm of the French company, which is the world’s third largest F&B packaging firm.