The BKartA has recently launched a sector enquiry into the food
retail sector, focussing on the competitive conditions on the
procurement markets for food and luxury foods for retailers. Such
an investigation can be undertaken by the BKartA where there are
special circumstances which suggest that domestic competition may
be restricted or distorted. They are not proceedings against
specific companies but serve to investigate a sector as a
This latest sector enquiry into the food retail sector to be
announced is the last in a long line of food and retail firms to be
under scrutiny at the BKartA. The BKartA is still engaged in a milk
sector enquiry and is involved in an ongoing investigation of trade
practices of German retailers.
The President of the BKartA Mr. Andreas Mundt believes that both
the retail sales market and the procurement market have been
influenced by the high level of concentration in the food retail
sector. In his assessment, "the four leading retail
companies have come to control around 85% of the total sales market
in Germany". It seems that through the expertise Mr. Mundt has
gained in other sectors connected to the food industry, the BKartA
now wishes to take a closer look at the power structure in the food
retail sector as well as the balance of power between food
retailers and manufacturers.
Until now, most investigations have been focussed on the retail
side, with mergers in the food retail sector being heavily
scrutinised by the BKartA in the past. From this, the BKartA is now
focussing on the predominantly national procurement markets, which
cover the relationship between the trading companies and their
suppliers, analysing the effects of the concentration in the retail
market on the competitive conditions for smaller trading companies
Due to the large amount of possible sectors in the food retail
sector, it is perhaps not surprising that the scope of the sector
enquiry is limited to the clarification of specific individual
questions. In particular, the BKartA will investigate the market
positions which are held by individual retailers (and their
cooperation partners) in the procurement of goods. This will be
undertaken with the help of some particular selected product
groups. The investigation is set to determine which, if any,
purchasing advantages are granted to leading food retailers as
compared to their competitors. Any follow-on effects on the retail
market resulting from differing competitive conditions on the
procurement market will also be examined.
To view Community Week, Issue 509; 18th February 2011
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