Cartel Office turns a blind eye to sugar manufacturers

Dlike Federal Cartel Office has for the first time suspended competition rules for an entire industry in view of a possible impending gas emergency. According to a statement from the authority, the four sugar companies that produce in Germany, Nordzucker, Südzucker, Pfeifer & Langen and Cosun Beet, can work together more closely than they have for a long time in the event of a gas supply emergency. In concrete terms, they are allowed to make production capacities available to each other in order to ensure the processing of the sugar beets.

Bernd Freytag

Business correspondent Rhein-Neckar-Saar based in Mainz.

According to its own statement, the competition authority currently perceives an increased need for discussion from companies. Other exceptions could follow. At the annual press conference just over a week ago, the President of the Cartel Office Andrew Mundt said that antitrust law is flexible enough to “temporarily tolerate” cooperation between companies due to the crisis.

According to him, for the competitive evaluation of the cooperation in the sugar industry, it was now central that it is a one-off and temporary cooperation in the event of a gas emergency. It only applies during the so-called sugar beet campaign, from the beginning of September with the first harvest until the billing in June 2023. The flow of information between the companies is limited to the essentials by accompanying measures.

Companies fear major damage

The majority of the remaining 18 sugar factories in Germany are currently still fired with natural gas. If there was no gas, it would come to him cartel office according to “serious consequences” since the beet harvest threatened to spoil. This, in turn, also threatens consumers, “since excessive price peaks in the basic product sugar affect the entire value chain,” as Mundt said.

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