U.S. probes chocolate makers for price fixing: WSJ

NEW YORK Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:55pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is looking into possible price fixing in the chocolate industry, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday on its Web site.

Last month, Canadian authorities launched a similar probe into price fixing at the Canadian units of major chocolate makers Nestle SA, Cadbury Schweppes Plc, Hershey Co and Mars Inc.

A Justice Department spokeswoman contacted by Reuters had no comment.

The Journal reported that a Mars spokeswoman said the company had been contacted by the Justice Department's antitrust division and that if the agency initiated an investigation Mars would cooperate.

The newspaper quoted a Nestle spokeswoman as saying Nestle USA was aware of a preliminary investigation into the marketing practices in the U.S. chocolate industry. She was quoted as saying the company had not received any document requests, but planned to cooperate with the investigation.

The newspaper said a Cadbury spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny whether the company had been contacted by the Justice Department.

(Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman, Justin Grant and Diane Bartz)

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