The European Union suspects 13 companies who make or distribute food packaging of having run a cartel for up to eight years, possibly driving up prices, its executive said Friday, dpa reported.
"This behaviour, if established, may have affected direct customers, such as supermarkets, and ultimately end-consumers," the European Commission wrote in a statement.
The commission said it had contacted the companies, who supplied polystyrene foam and polypropylene rigid trays, of the type used to package food such as meat, fish and cheese.
The companies in question "may have engaged in price fixing, market sharing, customer allocation, exchanges of commercially sensitive information and bid-rigging," the commission said.
One of the companies in question, Finnish manufacturer Huhtamaki, said the commission's objections referred to its activities during 2000-08, and related mostly to an arm of the business that had since been discontinued.
Huhtamaki said it would examine the objections and respond in line with the commission's demands.
The commission's statement of objections is an early step that could lead to the imposition of fines amounting to up to 10 per cent of a company's annual turnover.
The commission only names companies if they are indeed found guilty of cartel behaviour.