Italy’s competition authority, Autorita’ Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), has commenced an antitrust probe into several domestic glass manufacturers over an alleged wine bottle cartel.

The companies being investigated by the body include Italian bottle manufacturers Zignago Vetro and Bormioli Luigi, along with the Italian subsidiaries of France’s Verallia, Austria’s Vetropak, the UK’s Berlin Packaging, and Switzerland’s O-I Europe, the Financial Times reported.

Together, all these companies contribute to major wine bottle production in Italy.

However, they have allegedly been using anticompetitive conduct in the production and commercialisation of glass wine bottles manufactured, starting from 2022.

AGCM stated that the preliminary evidence highlighted the presence of a possible anti-competition agreement, which is suspected to involve coordinating the price of glass wine bottles in the country.

Such practices are also against the EU’s rules. 

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“This coordination could be the result of an agreement or an agreed practice to avoid competitive comparison between the main players in the sector,” a Drinks Business report said, highlighting AGCM’s statement.

The competition authority further confirmed that the associated complaint against the local glass manufacturers was lodged by Filiera Italia, Bottega, and an anonymous whistle blower.

Filiera is a foundation that works to safeguard ‘Made in Italy’ food and wine while Bottega specialises in making prosecco, grappa, and liquors, as well as other alcoholic beverages.

Complaints also suggest a potential cartel among the accused wine bottle producers, resulting in an increase in prices in Italy primarily attributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a media statement released today (13 November), Verallia denied any ‘inappropriate behaviour’, claiming that it will clarify the legitimacy of its position in the investigation.

“On Wednesday, 8 November 2023, Authority [AGCM] officials carried out inspections at the main offices of the companies as well as national trade association Assovetro. Verallia has provided all requested information and is fully cooperating with the Authority in the course of this investigation,” Verallia added.