Jupiler brewer hit with €200 million fine from Commission

Summary

The European Commission is not amused at AB InBev’s blocking of imports of its best-selling beer Jupiler from the Netherlands

Cheaper up north

People in Belgium have been paying too much for their Jupiler – prompting a €200 million fine for brewer AB InBev from the European Commission. The world’s biggest brewer, based in Leuven, was found to have abused its dominant position in the local beer market.

Its best-selling beer brand, Jupiler, is less expensive in the Netherlands, but the European Commission found that AB InBev strategically blocked imports from the Netherlands into Belgium.

The brewer did this by modifying the packaging in the Netherlands to make it more difficult to sell here, in particular by removing the French version of the product information. “Consumers in Belgium have paid more for their favourite beer because of AB InBev’s deliberate strategy to limit cross-border sales between the Netherlands and Belgium,” said competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

The EU fine will be reduced by 15% because AB InBev fully co-operated with the Commission’s investigation and had acknowledged wrongdoing.

Consumer protection watchdog Test-Aankoop welcomed the fine but, it also wants AB InBev to pay compensation to consumers “who have paid too much for their beer for more than seven years”.

Trade federation Comeos said other cases could follow. There are “other international brands,” said a spokesperson, “that Belgian traders cannot buy from countries where they are cheaper”.

Photo courtesy AB InBev