The German Competition Authority has started a sector inquiry in the food retail sector yesterday and has sent questionnaires to 21 retailers and over 200 producers in the food and beverages industry.

According to the press release (at the moment only available in German at: http://www.bundeskartellamt.de/wDeutsch/download/pdf/Presse/2011/2011-09-16_PM_SU_LEH.pdf), the inquiry will focus on the following product categories: canned vegetables, milk, butter, cold coffee and milkdrinks, ketchup, frozen pizza, roasted coffee and sparkling wine.  The inquiry could be extended to further product categories in the future.

The Authority will primarily investigate the question whether the retailers enjoy significant buyer power vis-à-vis producers.

A sector inquiry concerns a whole sector and is not directed against any particular undertakings. However, depending on the outcome of the investigation, the Authority may initiate antitrust investigations against one or more undertakings in the sector.