The Spanish National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) began its investigation last November when it conducted inspections at the headquarters of five turrón manufacturers (Delaviuda Alimentacion S.A., Almendra y Miel S.A., Sanchis Mira S.A., Turrones Pico S.A. and Enrique Garrigos Monerris S.A.), to “determine the existence of circumstances that would justify the opening of disciplinary proceedings”.
The authority has now announced: “Based on these investigations, the CNMC discovered reasonable indications of the existence of conduct prohibited by the country’s competition protection law no. 15/2007 … based on which disciplinary proceedings were started against Delaviuda Alimentacion S.A., Almendra y Miel S.A., Sanchis Mira S.A., Turrones Pico S.A., Enrique Garrigos Monerris S.A. and Turrones Jose Garrigos S.A.”
Turrón, an example of the influence of Arab cuisine on Spanish gastronomic heritage, is a candy similar to nougat made with honey, sugar, egg whites and almonds or other nuts.
Price fixing allegations
The CNMC said the six aforementioned companies were under investigation for possible involvement in anti-competitive practices, such as direct or indirect price fixing, fixing of other commercial and service conditions, and the exchange of commercially sensitive information on the Spanish market, prohibited by Article 1 of the competition law.
This type of anti-competitive conduct, if proven, could result in a fine of up to 10% of the company’s turnover before the imposition of the fine.
The CNMC said investigation of cartels were one of its key priorities given the gravity of consequences for both consumers and markets, and it had a program in place to help companies that provided it with evidence enabling the detection of a cartel.
Following the CNMC’s announcement, the commission has a maximum period of 18 months to investigate and resolve the case. Yet it added: “The opening of these proceedings does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.”
Almendra y Miel to cooperate with investigation
One of the companies named by CNMC, Almendra y Miel, told ConfectioneryNews that it received a notification from the CNMC about the start of the investigation of Spain’s turrón industry on the grounds of possible anti-competitive practices. “The management of Almendra y Miel reiterated its full readiness to cooperate with the CNMC to clarify the facts and to demonstrate that Almendra y Miel has always complied with the law and pursued an independent business strategy,” the Alicante-based company said.
“The strategy of Almendra y Miel has always been based on a fierce commitment to quality of high-end products and mid-market product, through an excellent quality/price relationship accompanied with attractive and novel product presentations,” it added.
Almendra y Miel, which is part of the wider Confectionery Holding group, is the owner of leading turrón brands 1880, El Lobo and Clair de Lune.
Almendra y Miel, Enrique Garrigos Monerris, Sanchis Mira, Turrones Jose Garrigos and Turrones Pico are all members of the regulatory council for turrón manufactured in Jijona and Alicante.