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EU says six Norwegian salmon farmers may have breached EU antitrust rules

Between 2011 and 2019, Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, Bremnes, Lerøy, Mowi and SalMar may have exchanged commercially sensitive information.

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January 25, 2024

The European Commission has informed Norwegian salmon producers Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, Bremnes, Lerøy, Mowi and SalMar of its preliminary view that they breached EU antitrust rules by colluding to distort competition in the market for spot sales of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon in the EU.

The Commission has concerns that, between 2011 and 2019, the six salmon producers, exchanged commercially sensitive information, relating to sales prices, available volumes, sales volumes, production volumes and production capacities, as well as other price-setting factors. The suspected aim of this alleged conduct was to reduce normal uncertainty in the market for spot sales of Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon into the EU.

The alleged anticompetitive conduct only concerns sales on the spot market into the EU, as opposed to sales based on long-term contracts. Spot sales are those for which prices, volumes and other sales conditions are agreed per sale, based on the market conditions on the day of the sale.

Norway accounts for over half of the production of farmed Atlantic salmon worldwide and the EU is its main importer. The alleged conduct concerns sales of fresh, whole and gutted Atlantic salmon farmed in Norway, which accounts for nearly 80% of all farmed Atlantic salmon exported from Norway. The alleged conduct does not concern frozen farmed Atlantic salmon or processed products such as salmon fillets, loins, or smoked salmon.

If the Commission's preliminary view is confirmed, this conduct would infringe Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU'), which prohibits cartels and other restrictive business practices.

If the Commission concludes, after the parties have exercised their rights of defence, that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can adopt a decision prohibiting the conduct and imposing a fine of up to 10% of a company's annual worldwide turnover.