Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, was hit with an EU antitrust fine of €200 million (US$225 million) on Monday, May 13, for preventing cheaper beer imports from the Netherlands into Belgium, reported the Financial Times.
The European Commission’s decision came after a three-year investigation into the brewer’s most popular brand in Belgium, Jupiler, which has a 40% market share. Reuters reported last July that the company would be penalized.
“Consumers in Belgium have been paying more for their favorite beer because of AB InBev’s deliberate strategy to restrict cross border sales between the Netherlands and Belgium,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.
Headquartered in Leuven, AB InBev has held more than 50% share of the beer market in its home country for nearly a quarter of a century. Jupiler is its most popular brand in Belgium and represents around 40% per cent of the total Belgian beer sold domestically by volume, according to the Commission. EU officials determined that the company is dominant in the market for Belgian beer — based on high market share, its ability to increase prices, and “significant” barriers to entry.