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Unfair trading practices towards fruit growers: AFCA files application with Cartel Court to have wholesaler fined

On 23 February 2024, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (AFCA) applied to the Cartel Court for an appropriate fine to be imposed in relation to breaches of the Fair Competitive Conditions Act (FCCA).

The application relates to unfair trading practices in connection with the sale of agricultural and food products, specifically certain apple varieties.

The Fairness Office, which is the point of contact for any complaints in connection with the sale of agricultural and food products (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management), informed the AFCA of potential breaches by a wholesaler. The buyer had allegedly made late payments for agricultural products supplied to them by two fruit growers. Having received this information, the AFCA initiated investigations and found that there had been 14 instances of belated payment for non-perishable agricultural products. Payment had been made more than 60 days after the end of the supply period, mostly constituting instalment payments over an extended period of time. In the AFCA’s view, this constitutes an unfair trading practice.

This is one case showing how closely we at the AFCA cooperate with the Fairness Office to end unfair practices of this kind. Such late payments place an inadmissible burden on farmers, and we vigorously pursue any such complaints,” asserted Director General for Competition Natalie Harsdorf-Borsch.

The FCCA differentiates between a maximum payment term of 30 days for perishable and no more than 60 days for other agricultural and food products. These rules on late payment are designed to put a stop on this practice, which is detrimental to suppliers’ economic viability.

The AFCA is the authority in charge of enforcing the FWBG. For more information, please click on the following link: https://www.bwb.gv.at/en/further-competences/unfair-trading-practices