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Peters fined $12 million for anti-competitive behaviour

(Source: Peters / Facebook.)

Peters Ice Cream has been fined $12 million for anti-competitive conduct in the distribution of ice cream products after a case was lodged by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

According to the ACCC, Australasian Food Group (AFG), trading as Peters Ice Cream, admitted that between November 2014 and December 2019, it acquired distribution services from PFD Food Services on the condition that PFD would not sell or distribute competitors’ single-serve ice cream products in various geographic areas throughout Australia – except with the prior written consent of Peters Ice Cream. Peters Ice Cream brands include Connoisseur, Drumstick, Maxibon and Frosty Fruits. 

“Peters Ice Cream admitted that in doing so, it had engaged in exclusive dealing conduct that had the likely effect of substantially lessening competition in the market for the supply by manufacturers of single-serve ice cream and frozen confectionery products,” the ACCC said in a statement.

Peters’ products are sold in petrol stations and convenience stores across the country. The restriction covered much of Australia geographically including Western Australia, Tasmania, South Australia, ACT, PFD’s Darwin distribution zone, and regional areas in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

“Peters Ice Cream admitted that if PFD had not been restricted from distributing other manufacturers’ ice cream products, it was likely that one or more potential competitors would have entered or expanded in this market,”  said Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Australian Competition Consumer Commission Chair (ACCC).

“We took this action because we were concerned that Peters Ice Cream’s conduct could reduce competition in this market and impact on the choice of single-serve ice creams available to consumers.”

She added that the case is a reminder to all businesses of the serious and costly consequences of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.

Peters Ice Cream has been ordered to create a compliance program for a period of three years and also to pay part of ACCC’s legal costs.

In a statement, AFG said the agreement that led to the fine being imposed ended in 2019 and a new agreement does not contain any exclusivity.

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