15 May 2019

EU Commission fines AB InBev €200.4m for Juliper antitrust breach

The European Commission has fined Belgium-based brewer AB InBev €200.4 million ($224 million) for breaching antitrust rules.

On Monday, May 13, the EU Commission said AB InBev had “abused its dominant position on the Belgian beer market” by hindering cheaper imports of one of its beers from the Netherlands into Belgium from 2009 to 2016.

The beer under investigation was Juliper, the biggest selling beer in Belgium. It represents 40% of the total Belgian beer market in sales volume.

The commission said that in the Netherlands, where the beer is also sold, AB InBev sells Jupiler to retailers and wholesalers at lower prices than in Belgium due to increased competition.

It said AB InBev had pursued a “deliberate strategy” to restrict the possibility of supermarkets and wholesalers to buy Juliper at lower prices in the Netherlands and to import it into Belgium.

“The overall objective of this strategy was to maintain higher prices in Belgium by limiting imports of less expensive Jupiler beer products from the Netherlands,” the commission said.

It said AB InBev did this in four ways. First, it said AB InBev changed the packaging of its Jupiler products supplied to retailers and wholesalers in the Netherlands to make these products harder to sell in Belgium.

AB InBev allegedly also limited the volumes of Jupiler beer supplied to a wholesaler in the Netherlands, to restrict imports of these products into Belgium.

The commission also said AB InBev refused to sell the beer to one retailer “unless the retailer agreed to limit its imports of less expensive Jupiler beer from the Netherlands to Belgium”.

Additionally, it found AB InBev made it mandatory for a retailer in the Netherlands to offer customer promotions for the beer, but the retailer was not able to offer the same promotions to customers in Belgium.

Margrethe Vestager, commissioner in charge of competition policy, said “attempts by dominant companies to carve up the single market to maintain high prices are illegal”.

"Consumers in Belgium have been paying more for their favourite beer because of AB InBev's deliberate strategy to restrict cross border sales between the Netherlands and Belgium,” she added.

In a statement to WIPR, AB InBev confirmed it had reached a settlement with the commission.

John Blood, general counsel of AB InBev, said the brewer has started putting agreed measures in place.

Blood said: “We appreciate the constructive approach taken by the European Commission throughout this process. Responsibility and integrity define our culture and we have reinforced our compliance programme based on the learnings of this case.”

He added: “Consumers are at the heart of everything we do. The conclusion of the case allows us to put this behind us and continue to brew high-quality beers that are enjoyed around the world."

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Today's top stories:

Samsung and Huawei settle in China

PSG star has bad faith ‘Neymar’ mark invalidated

Court dismisses Louis Vuitton ‘Poeey’ purse suit

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

12 March 2020   Heineken has prevailed in its patent dispute with global brewer AB InBev, after US trade officials yesterday, March 12, barred the Belgian company from importing beer dispensers found to infringe Heineken’s patents.
22 October 2020   In a setback for UK designers, the European Commission has rejected reciprocity on unregistered community design protections following its negotiations with the UK government.
14 July 2021   The European Commission is to unveil potential new regulation and/or a directive on standard-essential patents, after it criticised the present licensing system for its lack of transparency, unpredictability and inefficiency.