BRUSSELS, Dec 11 (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators are looking at the food sector to see if retailers with own-brand products wield too much market power, to the detriment of suppliers of competing branded goods.
The European Commission said on Tuesday it would study whether increasing use of own-brand or private label products reduced choice and hampered innovation in the sector.
It expects to have a report by the end of 2013.
EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the move resulted from a number of complaints about the way European food markets operate.
“We need more comprehensive data to assess these claims. Therefore, we have decided to carry out a detailed study to find out whether European consumers enjoy sufficient choice and innovative products adapted to their needs when buying food.”
The EU competition watchdog said private label products had boosted retailers’ bargaining power when dealing with suppliers.
“This may result in unfair trading practices where individual suppliers are forced to accept unfavourable conditions for fear of losing a big - or sometimes even only - client,” it said. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Dan Lalor)