January 20, 2008
The Star-Ledger quotes Partner Richard Donovan in an article titled "Are the Chocolate Prices Fixed?"
The article addresses recent investigations conducted by the Canadian Competition Bureau, an agency similar to the U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust Division, into allegations that leading chocolate companies engaged in a secret, high-level, price fixing conspiracy to elevate the price of conventional chocolates.
Analysts note the market share of regular chocolates has declined with the expansion of premium and gourmet chocolates. The U.S. Department of Justice is also looking into the pricing practices in the U.S. chocolate industry and nine class action lawsuits have been filed in federal court in New Jersey.
The article notes that chocolate is a $74 billion industry, and that three years ago in Canada, a limited number of companies, Hershey, Mars, Nestle and Cadbury Schweppes shared nearly 98 percent of the market.
The article states, "Companies the size of Hershey and Mars undoubtedly have compliance departments that presumably instructed employees about what they can and can't do, said Richard Donovan, co-chairman of the antitrust group at the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren in New York."
"'Usually, talking with competitors about price fixing is at the top of the list of things you don't do,' Donovan said."