March 24 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's competition authority said it has launched investigations of suspected breach of antitrust rules by retailers and associations in the food sector following complaints of allegedly unfounded price increases.
The Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) will investigate whether the sector players have established antitrust agreements or made decisions to enter into unlawful associations, it said in a press release on Thursday.
The probes are being conducted in the context of significant price increases on the Bulgarian food market in the first months of 2023, the CPC said. The commission's attention has been particularly drawn by the steep rise in the prices of eggs and dairy products as well as other staple foods such as bread and sunflower oil.
Under investigation are Association for Modern Trade, Billa Bulgaria, Lidl Bulgaria, Kaufland Bulgaria, Maxima Bulgaria, Promarket, Fantastico Group, Metro Cash and Carry Bulgaria, Bulgarian Poultry Union, Association of Industrial Poultry, Bulgarian Association of Dairy Processors, and National Association of Milk Processors.
The commission also said it already searched offices of Lidl Bulgaria, Bulgarian Poultry Union, and National Association of Milk Processors, looking for evidence of possible collusions to increase food prices. The regulator collected copies of documents and emails which will be analysed.