Germany's Federal Cartel Office Investigate Coca-Cola Over Potential Anti-Competitive Discounts

Germany's Federal Cartel Office in Bonn has initiated an abuse of dominance procedure against Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Deutschland GmbH (CCEP) due to concerns about possible anti-competitive discount practices. Andreas Mundt, the head of the authority, stated that there are indications that Coca-Cola's terms with German retail food outlets, particularly in discount arrangements, could impede other companies in their competitive opportunities.

"There are indications that Coca-Cola, through the structuring of its terms with German retail food outlets, especially in discount arrangements, could hinder other companies in their competitive opportunities," said Mundt. "We will now investigate this more closely."

According to the cartel authorities, Coca-Cola could have potentially abused a dominant market position, preliminarily suggesting that the company favored retail food sector businesses in their discount arrangements, enabling them to take, display, and promote the entire product range (e.g., Coca Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Mezzo Mix, VIO, fuzetea, Powerade). “This could result in hindering other beverage manufacturers as competitors of Coca-Cola, even in adjacent markets,” the authority stated

In a different case in July 2023, the Hamburg Regional Court ruled that CCEP DE is not subject to antitrust supply obligations towards Edeka-Zentrale. Edeka, Germany’s leading retail chain, had taken Coca-Cola to court last September after Coca-Cola ceased supply to the retail giant due to the rejected price increase. Through an interim injunction, the court initially obliged Coca-Cola to continue supplying, but later overturned the decision.

Concerning the current case, CCEP stated that the company is confident that its business model is in compliance with the law. "It is based on a fair principle of performance and consideration."

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