On October 4 the Competition Protection Commission announced the findings of its sector inquiry into the vertically related markets of wheat, wheat flour and mass wheat bread in Bulgaria.

In the course of its inquiry, the commission found that the increases in the wholesale price of flour were related to increases in the price of wheat as a main raw material. The commission considered that respective increases did not always correspond, which could be the result of a prohibited price agreement among participants in the wholesale flour market.

Following this, the commission opened an antitrust investigation against the Union of the Bulgarian Millers. Some members of the union are major participants in the wholesale flour market in Bulgaria. As such, on September 21 2012 the commission conducted a dawn raid at the union's offices in order to collect evidence (before announcing the sector inquiry findings).

The commission has identified competition issues in the wheat, wheat flour and bread markets, but also in the agricultural raw materials and food markets, which demand the implementation of certain measures to stimulate effective competition. As such, the following measures have been considered:

  • increased transparency of pricing mechanisms in the wheat, wheat flour and bread chain;
  • better use of quality standards; and
  • introduction of written agreements between grain producers and grain traders.

Further, according to the commission, equality among market participants should be increased. The commission has recommended that small and medium-sized enterprises be encouraged by ensuring easy access to financing and by reducing the administrative burden in order to stabilise the market environment on the assessed markets.

For further information on this topic please contact Ilko Stoyanov or Mariya Papazova at Advokatsko Druzhestvo Andreev Stoyanov & Tsekova in cooperation with Schönherr Rechtsanwälte GmbH by telephone (+359 2 933 1072), fax (+359 2 986 1105) or email (i.stoyanov@schoenherr.bg or m.papazova@schoenherr.bg).

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