Last Monday Germany laid down a €106.5 million fine on its biggest breweries after they were caught colluding to raise prices, but the end result for the consumer will still include higher beer prices, as the companies say they will need to raise prices after the fine.
According to The Local, Bitburger, Krombacher, Veltins, Warsteiner, and Barre were all fined by Germany's Federal Cartel Office for a price-fixing scam that led to an industry-wide price increase of between €5 and €7 for 100 liters of beer. Six other large breweries are the subject of investigation, but have not yet been named. (Industry sources told The Local that Carlsberg and Radeberger are included.)
Anheuser-Busch struck a deal with the office and agreed to turn state’s evidence against the other brewers in exchange for avoiding the fine.
Now that the collusion has been thwarted, drink prices are not expected to fall. In fact, they’re probably going to rise again. Sepp Gail, the head of the Association of German Drink Retailers, said the fines would damage brewers’ profits and have to be passed on to consumers.
“The [profit] margins are very small,” he said.