Salmon producers accused of price fixing in £382 million compensation lawsuit 

Legal action leaves some of the world’s largest salmon producers on the hook over price fixing cartel concerns affecting millions of UK consumers 

Six major salmon farming companies have been accused of artificially inflating the price of farmed Atlantic salmon which saw UK consumers overcharged for years.

The legal claim worth £382 million involves Mowi, Mowi Holdings, SalMar, Lerøy, Scottish Sea Farms and Grieg.

The companies involved are said to have unlawfully shared information to drive up the price of farmed Atlantic salmon sold in major UK supermarkets. 

Anne Heal, who filed the claim with law firm Simmons and Simmons, said:

‘This action seeks fair redress for the millions of British consumers who, we say, have spent years overpaying for one of the UK’s best loved and nutritious foods.

‘Any individual consumer who bought salmon between October 2015 and May 2019 is entitled to their fair share of the £382 million compensation we are seeking.

‘We are asking salmon producers to do the right thing and compensate consumers who have had to pay up to 20% more than they would have for their salmon.”

The claim, filed at the UK’s specialist competition court, is seeking compensation for consumers who have been overcharged for salmon between October 2015 and May 2019. Seven major supermarkets filed a separate legal claim against these companies in March.

Heal, an ex-BT executive and current Chair of Volunteering Matters, added: ‘This action claims that some of the Atlantic salmon farming industry’s biggest companies have conspired to raid the wallets of hard-working shoppers.

‘By bringing this collective action, I want to give a voice to affected consumers across the UK, and see them properly compensated for their losses.  

‘I also want to bring attention to market practices which harm consumers, and hold the defendant companies to account for their alleged wrongdoing.’

This latest claim against salmon producers says that it is consumers – not the supermarkets – who bore the cost of the price rises. 

Six top salmon producers accused of rigging the market

Heal says the six companies colluded to increase global prices for farmed Atlantic salmon which has led to increases in the prices paid by consumers. Prices are said to have increased by as much as 20%, most of which has been passed onto consumers.

The lawsuit is seeking up to £382 million for UK consumers who overpaid because of alleged breaches of competition law by major suppliers of farmed Atlantic salmon to UK supermarkets, grocery stores and food manufacturers.

Mowi, Mowi Holdings, SalMar, Lerøy, Scottish Sea Farms and Grieg are said to have worked together to increase the price of farmed Norwegian Atlantic salmon. They are accused of unlawfully sharing commercially sensitive sales information and colluding to rig prices.

Have you caught out by overpriced salmon?

The legal claim seeks fair compensation on behalf of up to 44 million UK consumers. 

Consumers may have been overcharged for four years up to May 2019, shortly after the European Commission raided the offices of Atlantic salmon farmers as part of a major investigation into price  fixing.

You could be eligible for compensation if you bought farmed Atlantic salmon (or any food products containing up to 50% salmon) from 1 October 2015 – when the Consumer Rights Act came into force – up to 31 May 2019. 

Heal has secured funding to cover the costs of the legal claim. This means you won’t have to pay a penny to have your interests represented. All you need to do now is sign up to stay updated as the claim progresses.

Heal, who set up a company called Waterside Class Limited to bring the claim, has instructed the law firm Simmons and Simmons to represent her in this claim. 

The firm claims that this cartel behaviour has breached competition laws that are designed to protect consumers.

Patrick Boylan, Head of Simmons and Simmons’ UK Dispute Resolution Group, said: ‘Competition laws are there to protect everyone. Thankfully, we have a fast-evolving collective proceedings regime to help vindicate consumers’ rights.’ 

Action against salmon price fixing

The European Commission reported in January this year that various Norwegian companies – including Mowi, SalMar, Lerøy and Grieg – colluded to fix short-term farmed Atlantic salmon prices in Europe between 2011 and 2019.

In its preliminary findings it accused the Norwegian salmon producers of breaching EU antitrust rules by exhanging commercially sensitive information. This included sales prices and volumes and other price-setting information.

Norway accounts for over half of the production of farmed Atlantic salmon worldwide. In the US and in Canada, some of the companies have contributed to multimillion-dollar payments to settle class action lawsuits brought on behalf of salmon shoppers in the US and in Canada. 

Mowi, Mowi Holdings, SalMar, Lerøy, Scottish Sea Farms and Grieg were asked to comment.

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