The European Commission has once again revived its investigation into the major Norwegian salmon farmers over allegations of price fixing, this time by sending out surveys to the customers of the companies under investigation.
The survey, which has been sent to all affiliated companies -- retailers, wholesalers, secondary processors, etc -- begins by stating that the European Commission is investigating the industry over alleged anti-competitive practices.
"If such behavior is confirmed to exist in the industry, it could constitute a violation of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU," the survey said.
The commission wants all companies related to the Norwegian aquaculture industry to respond to the survey to contribute to the investigation.
However, without prior warning, many of the companies have deleted the survey, presuming it to be spam, Kjetil Hestad, the head of the Norwegian Seafood Association, told IntraFish.
"It would have been better if the companies had received a little notice in advance from either the European Commission or the authorities that the inquiry would be sent out.
"We do not oppose such an investigation and have nothing to hide, but the way this was sent out, without advance notice, created some confusion."
Hestad sought out Norway's Minsitry of Trade and Industry (NFD) for clarification, which said it was already aware of the investigation but did not notify the sector.
"The ministry is aware of the investigation but we have not had any involvement with it," Martine Roiseland, head of communications at NFD, told IntraFish.
"Otherwise, we have no views on the question of price cooperation in the industry," she said.
Read all the survey here:
This price collusion case dates back to 2014 and is an ongoing saga in the sector.
In February 2019, the commission reignited its investigation into the Norwegian salmon industry for anti-competitive practices by conducting raids on a number of companies' offices in several member states.
At the time, buyers said the probe into price fixing "was not a surprise."