Frankfurt: German officials have raided the offices of confectionery manufacturers on suspicion of price fixing. The German headquarters of Nestlé, Mars and Kraft, as well as four other manufacturers, were visited by the German Federal Cartel Office last week. The investigation was launched after several companies raised their prices by between 10% and 12% within a few weeks of each other. All the manufacturers said the increases were due to the soaring price of cocoa.
Australian inquiry outline released
Canberra: The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has released an outline of what it will investigate in its inquiry into the competitiveness of retail prices for standard groceries. The inquiry, launched last month, will examine competition at supplier, wholesaler and retailer levels, the competitive position of small and independent retailers, and the pricing practices of national grocery retailers.
Seiyu says losses will have doubled
Tokyo: Wal-Mart-owned supermarket group Seiyu has warned its full-year net losses would be double what had been forecast. The Japanese chain had predicted a group net loss of ¥10.4bn (£49.5m) for 2007 but this was now likely to be ¥20.9bn (£99.6m), it said. Full-year sales would be down about 1.1% to ¥952.3bn (£4.49bn). Sales had been hit by a slowdown in demand for clothing and household goods, it said.
Six die in sugar refinery explosion
Port Wentworth, Georgia: An explosion and fire at Imperial Sugar's sugar refinery killed six people and injured 17. It is unclear when the site will reopen. "We are working with the authorities, providing support to those receiving medical attention as well as families of those who have been affected," said president and CEO John Sheptor.
Animal welfare pledge by Safeway
Pleasanton, California: Supermarket chain Safeway is to adopt new welfare policies following pressure from animal rights groups. It has pledged to double the proportion of cage-free eggs it sells to more than 6% by 2010, increase the number of chickens and turkeys it sells that are killed by controlled-atmosphere killing, and increase the amount of pigmeat it buys from suppliers that don't use restrictive metal enclosures.
European margarine producer sold
Mannheim: Bunge Europe has acquired European margarine producer Walter Rau Lebensmittelwerke. The company has 280 staff across two production sites in Germany, and recorded sales of $180m (£92.1m) in 2006. The acquisition made Bunge Europe the market leader in the German own-label margarine sector and number two in the German branded margarine sector, said Jean-Louis Gourbin, CEO of Bunge Europe. "We intend to leverage this expertise within our global food portfolio," he added.