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Grocers take on chocolatemakers

Pennsylvania-based Hershey Co. is one of the chocolate makers accused by major retailers of price fixing.

AP photo

Pennsylvania-based Hershey Co. is one of the chocolate makers accused by major retailers of price fixing.

Florida grocers Publix Super Markets Inc. and Sweetbay Supermarket are among many major retailers nationally to file price fixing suits in the past three weeks against the four big chocolatemakers that control about 80 percent of the market.

The suits, which grew from investigations by the European Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau, allege that Pennsylvania-based Hershey Co. and Mars Inc. conspired with Swiss-based Nestle SA and London-based Cadbury Schweppes Plc to raise prices about 15 percent as consumer demand for chocolate declined since 2001.The investigations uncovered a series of internal memos, e-mails and messages. The German Cartel Office raided the offices of seven candymakers in February.

Other suits in the United States were filed by Kroger Co., Giant Eagle Inc., Safeway Inc., and Meijer plus drugstore giants CVS Corp.,Walgreen Co. and Rite Aid Inc. A panel of judges is weighing where to consolidate the suits.

Grocers take on chocolatemakers 04/02/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2008 1:30pm]

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