The Mars and Nestle candy companies have been accused of price-fixing chocolate in Canada, according to a report from ABC News.
The report says a Canadian whistleblower uncovered evidence the two companies, in conjunction with several independent food wholesalers, participated in anti-competitive behavior that ultimately created a severe disadvantage for consumers.
The Hersheys chocolate company has agreed to plead guilty in the Ontario Superior Court to one count of price fixing. Mars Canada and Nestle have stated they will “vigorously defend” themselves against the charges.
Nestle and Mars faced similar charges in Germany in 2008, when products from each company shot up 25 percent in price simultaneously. At that time, Mars avoided penalties by cooperating with authorities. Nestle and 10 other chocolate confectionery companies ended up paying $60 million for unethical business practices.
If convicted, the companies face fines of up to $10 million Canadian dollars. Three individuals not associated with the Mars Corporation were also charged, and they face up to five years in prison.