(CN) – The European Commission fined beer giant AB InBev just over $225 million Monday for trying to keep cheaper imports of its Jupiler beer from coming into Belgium from the Netherlands.
Monday’s fine comes 18 months after the commission first accused AB InBev of abusing its dominant market position by thwarting Belgian retailers’ efforts to import Jupiler and Leffe from the Netherlands and France, where both brands – the most popular beers in Belgium – are cheaper.
According to the commission, AB InBev changed the look of Jupiler and Leffe cans in France and the Netherlands to make them harder to sell in Belgium. The company also limited quantities to Dutch retailers and blocked them from some promotions if it believed they might sell to Belgian outlets.
In the end, the commission determined AB InBev’s actions involving the Jupiler brand were illegal but noted the company went above and beyond in its cooperation during the investigation. The cooperation resulted in a 15 percent reduction of the antitrust fine, the commission said.
As a remedy, AB InBev agreed to put the mandatory dietary information in both French and Dutch on all of its products sold in Belgium, France and the Netherlands – not just Jupiler. This will ensure that AB InBev’s beers will be easy to sell in Belgium, where the dual-language packaging is required by law.
Headquartered in Belgium, AB InBev is the world’s largest brewer and in 2017 sold 28 percent of all the beer consumed in the world. Global brands include Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois.
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