Fragrances and fragrance ingredients – suspected anti-competitive conduct
The CMA has confirmed that it has launched an investigation into suspected anti-competitive conduct relating to the fragrances and fragrance ingredients sector.
The CMA launched its investigation in March 2022, so we are only at the very beginning of the UK competition regulator and watchdog looking into what may or may not have happened. The CMA has confirmed that it has reason to believe that such behaviour may be taking place, and they are also liaising with international partners in respect of the investigation.
If any breaches of the Competition Act are established, this would constitute a serious matter that will need to be dealt with, and the CMA may wish to issue fines and prosecutions.
CMA launches investigation into fragrances and fragrance ingredients
The CMA (the Competition and Markets Authority) has reportedly launched a new investigation in respect of suspected anti-competitive conduct in accordance with Chapter I CA98. According to the CMA publication, this relates to alleged behaviour in respect of the supply of fragrances and fragrance ingredients.
As the CMA always says, because this is the start of its investigation, it is not making any assumptions at the moment. It is going to be looking into fragrances and fragrance ingredients that are in relation to household and personal care products.
The CMA will need to thoroughly investigate the matters and collect as much information as possible to make a determination as to whether any untoward behaviour has taken place. In the CMA’s official publication, it stated that they have reason to suspect that anti-competitive behaviour may be taking place between suppliers and manufacturers in respect of the products in question.
The CMA has also said that it is in touch with the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice, as well as the European Commission and the Swiss Competition Commission over the matter as well. You can read more about the launch of the CMA’s latest investigation in respect of this matter on its website here.
Who is being investigated?
According to CMA, the following companies are currently under investigation as part of their review into looking into whether any suspected anti-competitive behaviour has taken place:
- Firmenich International SA
- Givaudan SA
- International Flavours & Fragrances Inc
- Symrise AG
Next stages of the investigation
The CMA has confirmed that the initial investigation has been launched as of March 2023 and it is expected that it may go on into early 2024. If any anti-competitive conduct is established in relation to the companies involved in the fragrances and fragrance ingredients sector, the CMA may wish to take action. Such action could include, but is not limited to, substantial fines issued to any companies who are established to have been involved in the alleged behaviour.
Any breach of the Competition Act is a serious matter that must always be dealt with. Ultimately, the victims in this are the consumers who may have been paying more than they should have been doing.
As usual, the CMA will likely update the progress of its investigations as time goes on, and you can keep an eye on developments on the CMA’s official website here.