The European Commission has imposed fines of more than €115m on ten companies for fixing prices in retail food packaging.
Eight manufacturers, namely Coopbox, Huhtamäki, Linpac, Magic Pack, Nespak, Silver Plastics, Sirap-Gema and Vitembal, and distributors Ovarpack and Propack have been found to be involved in at least one of five cartels between 2000 and 2008.
The cartels were formed for polystyrene foam trays utilised in retail packaging of food such as cheese, meat, fish and cakes in France, Italy, Central and Eastern Europe (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), north-western Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) and south-western Europe (Spain and Portugal).
The firms are accused of fixing prices, deciding on customers and markets, manipulating bids for tenders and exchanging commercially sensitive information.
European Union commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager said: "These polystyrene foam and rigid trays only cost a few euro cents each but retailers use many billions of them every year in the countries affected by these cartels. So you can get some idea of the potential damage done to retailers, and in turn to consumers, when companies get together to agree on prices and to share markets between themselves.
"The fines imposed reflect the seriousness of the infringements, the turnover generated by the products affected by the cartels and the duration and degree of each company’s participation. They should deter companies from engaging in such harmful behaviour."