Four of the biggest names in the world's fragrances and flavors sector are under investigation by the Swiss competition authorities (COMCO) who suspect illegal price fixing and maneuvers to stifle competition.
"The COMCO has indications that several companies active in the production of perfumes (fragrances) have violated cartel law," the competition authority wrote in a statement, citing Swiss companies Firmenich International SA, Givaudan SA, American International Flavors
The European Commission reported Tuesday evening on this ongoing investigation but did not name the companies concerned.
"There are suspicions that these companies would have coordinated their pricing policy, prevented their competitors from supplying specific customers and restricted the production of certain perfumes", explains the COMCO.
Fragrances and flavorings are used in the manufacture of many products, including cosmetics, personal care products, detergents and cleaning products, and the market is worth billions of dollars.
Industry leaders suspected
“Searches were carried out at various sites. These were carried out after consultation with other competition authorities, namely the European Commission, the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the UK Competition and Markets Authority.
"As part of the investigation, it will be examined whether there are indeed restrictions of competition prohibited by cartel law", further underlines the competition authority, adding that the presumption of innocence applies. to businesses. The statement gives no further details.
The European Commission announced that it had carried out unannounced inspections on Tuesday and the EU executive said it fears that "companies and an association in the perfume industry around the world may have breached EU cartel rules ".
The European Commission also recalls that companies that have participated in a cartel can benefit from immunity or a significant reduction in the fine incurred if they denounce these practices and cooperate with the investigators.
The two Swiss companies cited in the survey are among the leaders in this sector. Founded in 1895, Firmenich is known for its noses. Its master perfumers are at the origin of successful perfumes such as Angel (Thierry Mugler), Acqua di Gio (Armani) or Flower (Kenzo). Long attached to its independence, this family business must merge with the Dutch DSM to bring out a new giant of perfumes and aromas.