ECONOMY

Dairy industry in for fresh probe

The Competition Commission has placed the dairy industry under its microscope once again – two years after its initial decision regarding a milk cartel. The new investigation will check to see whether the companies have stuck by the commission’s previous decision, as it looks into whether other practices have been adopted that harm competition. Market distortions have been detected in a series of sectors, mainly in relation to agreements made between suppliers and retailers. This has prompted the competition watchdog to consider intervening in the retail sector, similiar to action taken regarding the fuel industry. However, if these steps are taken, the commission will require more time, at least another six months, as it is not yet adequately staffed. The 38 new positions announced in January are not expected to be filled until the middle of May. Before this, however, there are a series of outstanding issues the commission must deal with. It has been its intention to complete checks on the beer market in order to determine whether the Athenian Brewery has been taking advantage of its dominant market position. Over the next few days, the commission is also expected to announce its decision on Unilever and whether it restricts the imports of detergents into Greece. Furthermore, the competition watchdog is launching a new investigation on April 2 into alleged price-fixing practices among 14 ferry companies that also may find them to be taking steps that limit the routes available in the domestic market and the Adriatic Sea. Crucial areas of concern to consumers are investigations into basic food categories such as pasta products, rice, margarine, flour, diapers and baby foods. The investigation into the price of flour, which began in the industrial sector but has since spread to bakers, has reportedly turned up some rather interesting information.