France fines leading yogurt makers millions for fixing prices in secretive meetings

MarketsAssociated Press

France's competition authority has fined the country's dominant yogurt makers 192 million euros ($203 million) for fixing prices over several years.

The decision announced Thursday targets 11 companies — including Yoplait and Lactalis — that represent 90 percent of the French market in yogurt and related products.

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The cartel was uncovered thanks to a special procedure that allows companies to report their own price-fixing activity to regulators in exchange for reduced fines. Yoplait was the first company to report the activity, and was given no fines.

The companies agreed on how and when to raise prices from 2006 to 2012, as yogurt executives held secret meetings via dedicated phone numbers and in hotels, a famed Paris cafe and an apartment, according to the ruling.

The companies can appeal the decision.