Mondelez, the company behind Oreo cookies and Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, has been fined €337.5 million ($366 million) by the European Union for obstructing the

trade of chocolate, cookies, and coffee between EU countries to maintain high prices.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition chief, announced on Thursday that Mondelez had illegally restricted cross-border sales within the EU to sustain elevated prices for its products.

“This case concerns the price of groceries, a critical issue for European citizens, especially during times of high inflation and cost-of-living crises,” Vestager stated during a press conference.

The European Commission, which began investigating the case in 2019, found that Mondelez International (MDLZ) had intentionally restricted cross-border trade and abused its dominant position in certain national markets for chocolate bar sales. A formal investigation was launched in 2021.

The commission revealed that Mondelez had stopped supplying chocolate bars in the Netherlands to prevent their import into Belgium, where the company sold the same products at higher prices.

“The commission concluded that Mondelez’s illegal practices prevented retailers from sourcing products freely in EU member states with lower prices,” the EU's executive arm stated.

A spokesperson for Mondelez International said the penalty pertained to “isolated incidents, most of which were resolved before the commission’s investigation.”

“This historical matter does not reflect who we are or our strong culture of compliance. We continue to emphasize our overall compliance culture and have strengthened our annual mandatory compliance program to incorporate these learnings,” the spokesperson added.

Mondelez accounted for the fine last year, so no additional measures are needed to finance it.

According to the EU, the company's illegal practices date back to 2006 and include actions such as refusing to supply a wholesaler in Germany to prevent the resale of chocolate bars in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Romania, where prices were higher. In another instance, Mondelez required a customer to charge higher prices for exports compared to domestic sales. Photo by Kelly Bailey, Wikimedia commons.