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Salmon feed companies accused of fixing prices in Chile

Four of the the six salmon feed producers in Chile have been accused of colluding to fix fish feed prices.

Chilean Money isolated on a white background
LuisaLeal Photography | Bigstock.com

Court documents allege collusion occurred between 2003 and 2015

Chile’s National Economic Prosecutor’s Office (FNE) has accused four of the country’s six salmon feed producers of colluding to fix fish feed prices.

In its presentation to the Court of Defense of Free Competition (TDLC), the FNE named Biomar Chile SA, Nutreco Chile Ltd. (Skretting), EWOS Chile Co. Ltd. and Vitapro Chile SA (Salmofood).

Court documents accuse the four companies of fixing fish feed prices during 2003 and 2015, either directly through the coordination of prices or indirectly by coordinating the prices charged to customers for raw materials.

The prosecutor’s office requested that the TDLC apply to each of the companies a fine of 30,000 annual tax units, which amounts to about US$70 million total.

“The FNE requested this fine due to the seriousness and temporary extension of the agreement since the required companies are the only ones that sell salmon food in Chile, so their customers had to pay the cartel prices because they did not have alternative offers. According to FNE research, the price of food accounts for more than 50% of the total cost of salmon,” a press release from the FNE said. “In addition, the prosecutor asked the TDLC to exempt EWOS from fine for having betrayed the existence of the agreement, providing the background that gave rise to the investigation and evidence that was later strengthened through various proceedings, including entry, registration and seizure at company offices and statements by various executives, among others.”

The FNE indicated that the investigation into the case began with a whistleblower from EWOS.

“In this case, our investigation had as a starting point the confession of one of the members of the cartel, which only confirms the essential role that compensated delation plays in the detection and prosecution of collusion,” said National Economic Prosecutor Ricardo Riesco.

The FNE said executives from the accused companies coordinated via email, meetings and phone calls and then tried to eliminate evidence of the communications.

EWOS is based in the U.S., Biomar in Denmark, Skretting in Holland and Salmofood in Peru.

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