The kielbasa cartel was known as the "Atlantic Circle," as they met at the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg. The authority linked 21 producers and 33 individuals, whom all share the $460 million fine (though not equally.) Together, the 54 entities agreed to agreements raising the price of sausages.
Andreas Mundt, president of the Cartel Authority, didn't mince his words:
These price agreements have been practised for many years. The total penalty seems high at first glance but makes sense against the backdrop of the large number of companies involved, the duration of the cartel and the billions in sales earned in the market."
The Cartel Authority received a tip about the collusion, and during their investigation, eleven companies cooperated. Those eleven participants benefited from reduced fines, whereas some others face fines in the high millions of dollars.
The cartel included some of the best and most famous sausage makers in the world, including Böklunder, Wiesenhof and Rügenwalder. Zur-Mühlen-Gruppe, a sausage producer which owns Böklunder and Könecke, plans to contest the fines and has denied allegations.
The Cartel Authority also had a major bust in February, when it found three large sugar producers in Germany were fixing prices. They were fined $381 million. They also found eleven breweries were colluding, including Carlsberg. They were fined $460 million.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.