Russia's leading salmon importers suspected in cartel collusion when importing Norwegian fish

March 20, 2012 10:23

In mid-March 2012 Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS for short) made sudden checks of Norwegian salmon and trout importers Kontact and Atlant Pacific, and the nation's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) and Association of Fish Traders and Producers as they were suspected in cartel collusion while shipping salmon and trout from Norway, reports with reference to Izvestia.

More specifically, some 20 FAS inspectors came to one of the companies, suppressed its documents and electronic correspondence with Rosselkhoznadzor and other market players. FAS say they are going to check the above organizations up through 10 April 2012 and then they will give a report on the results.

According to some market sources, the checks were initiated by claims of several companies accusing the Association, Kontact and Atlant Pacific of agreement on seafood prices. (ZAO Atlant Pacific (closed jsc) is one of the biggest suppliers of chilled and freshfrozen fish from Norway, China, Vietnam and other countries. According to SPARK-Interfax, the company's revenue in 2010 amounted to RUR 5.3 billion. The above mentioned checks touched AP's imports of Norwegian salmon and trout.)

Actually, that is not the first case of FAS and Rosselkhoznadzor collision. In late November 2011 FAS found Rosselkhoznadzor guilty in limiting competition on the Russian market of Norwegian salmon. At that time the Russian vets did not want to issue seafood import permits for Streit Company which was going to ship fish from Norway under exclusive contracts with Norwegian suppliers.

Association of Fish Traders and Producers uniting such big market players as Russian Sea Group, Northern Company, Atlant Pacific and Tekhnolat also stands for exclusive contracts. The Association offers a producer plant to sign a five-year contract for salmon and trout shipments with one Russian company so that to simplify checks by Rosselkhoznadzor. For consumers, it would mean continuous supply of fish at stable prices. Other market participants naturally oppose such monopolization in a situation when due to discovery of hazardous substances in Norwegian fish many companies are forbidden to import seafood to Russia.

Last year Russia harvested more than 520,000 MT of salmons, the nation's exports totaled 164,000 MT and imports - 151,000 MT. According to Norwegian Seafood Council, Russia is the biggest importer of Norwegian fish with the total value of Norwegian fish imported into Russia in 2011 amounting to Euro 679 million or 10% of Norway's total seafood exports.

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