Initially it was thought that illegal price fixing only took place between 2006 and 2008, but a report seen by Germany’s Focus news magazine has suggested this was “most likely just the tip of the iceberg” and that it may have been the case for just under two decades.
There was a widespread investigation earlier this year, in which Veltins and Bitburger bosses both admitted to secretly agreeing, via telephone, to raising beer prices before industry meetings.
This information would then be passed onto smaller brewers who would then too have to raise prices in order to keep up with the competition – causing a knock-on effect that would see beer prices pushed up across the market.
In an interview at Veltins on January 31st this year Veltin’s head Volker Kuhl admitted to private discussions on the side of industry get-togethers. So too did Bundesliga sponsor Bitburger, and the brewery association of western state North Rhine-Westphalia, although no companies have been formally named.
If the claims are true, those involved could face huge fines.