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Laundry detergents sold 361% higher in Greece, finds Competition Committee

Greece’s Competition Committee showed “red card” to multinationals Unilever and  P&G because their laundry detergents are sold up to 361% more expensive in Greece than in other EU countries.

A price survey conducted by the C.C. in Greece and the rest of the EU countries have showed that ;aundry products by the two companies are sold in Greece by 113.92% to 361% more expensive compared to the cheapest country in the EU, which is Ireland, with also cheap countries – based on purchasing power – being Sweden and Germany.

Unilever and P&G hold the largest market shares in the laundry detergent category in Greece.

According to the findings report by the C.C., the price survey started because  from July 2022 onward, a significant increase in the inflation of the broader category “house cleaning products” was recorded in Greece compared to the Eurozone.

According to Eurostat data, while until June the discrepancy was small (5.7% increase in the Eurozone and 5.8% in Greece), in July it reached 7.3% for the Eurozone and 8.1% in Greece and expanded even more in the following months (8.2% and 11.4%, respectively, in August and so on).

Also, in December 2022, the index in question increased in Greece by 2.5 percentage points compared to November, with the price increases in detergents being 15.9% in December against 13.4% in November 2022.

By making the data public, the Competition Commission aims mainly to cause a reduction in prices on the part of the companies, as, if nothing else, the publication of data on high prices and even compared to countries with higher purchasing power may influence pricing policy on the part of multinationals.

It is worth noting that although E.A. refrains from making public its findings as to the causes of the high prices in Greece, the possibility of an investigation into anti-competitive practices in the coming year should not be ruled out, noted daily kathimerini.

However, according to competent sources and market analysts, three of the main reasons are the small size of the Greek market, which in essence does not create an incentive for great price competition, the low penetration of private label products in the detergent category for clothes, as well as the very small domestic production.

Even if E.A. does not proceed to publicize the interpretation of the high prices, the observations he makes are quite revealing:

• Greece is ranked in the group of countries that have high prices regardless of the size of the package. This fact does not seem to be affected by the geographical factor, as Greece and Cyprus have a big difference in their prices (Cyprus has cheaper prices) although for the transport of the product to Cyprus additional costs are probably needed, due to the geographical location.

• In Greece, the smaller the package, the higher the price per piece (for capsules). In the package of 14 pieces, the price per piece is 0.66 euros, while in that of 54 pieces, 0.44 euros. In the Netherlands, for example, the price per piece is not differentiated.

Ακριβό στην Ελλάδα το πλύσιμο των ρούχων-1

table: price per piece – deviation from EU’s cheapest country.

As part of the investigation, products in capsules and washing powder of the brands Skip and Ariel were examined.

From the private label 17.7% of the turnover of the supermarkets.

Competition Committee: Four more key products under the microscope

Not only laundry detergents, but also four other key products are under the microscope of the Competition Commission that has decided to map the conditions of competition in the said market, as well as in the markets of fresh milk, baby milk, cheese and cow yogurt.

The purpose of the mapping on the specific products is to deepen the research due to significant price increases in certain product categories, changes in consumer habits and measures adopted by the State.

It is worth noting here that according to the said researched sector and indeed based on its updated data, in the detergent sector two suppliers have the greatest bargaining power, in yogurts mainly one supermarket and one supplier, in cheeses mainly one supplier.

According to media information, the “whistleblowing” platform launched by the Competition Commission in 2021 has been of decisive importance for the detection of anti-competitive practices.

According to the C.C., increase in cases that were started -68 in December 2022- is mainly due to the operation of the said platform. The cases that had been opened were 15 and the cases that had been assigned to a rapporteur were 2.

PS Laundry detergents in Greece: when I returned 18 years ago after a few decades living abroad I was surprised that they were even up to 10 euros more than else where in Europe. when I was pointing out this to family and friends they would look at me as if I came from Mars. But it was the fat cows times in the country and nobody would protest high prices.

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  1. Not surprised. Most things here are as expensive as in expensive countries in Europe, with average salary 3 times higher than here. So who takes all the money?!

  2. some years back i found greek yogurt, imported from greece, cheaper on the shelf in supermarkets in germany, than the very same item , very same brand, was on the shelf in the supermarket in greece. transportation costs (for refrigerated goods with a short expiration date, even!) can’t be that negligible.. it’s not like the stores down here are paying higher wages than in germany.. it’s all profit by the small cartel that has for so long been accustomed to draining the very last drop of blood from this country.

  3. I think it’s time they came clean…

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