US company Mondelēz International is being investigated by EU antitrust authorities over concerns it may have blocked cross-border sales of its products in the European Union in breach of competition rules.
The case is the latest example of the European Commission's crackdown on companies that impose curbs on sales of products between EU countries as the EU executive seeks to spur cross-border sales and boost economic growth.
EU competition enforcers said the issue was parallel trade of Mondelēz's chocolate, biscuits and coffee between EU countries where the company is a key producer in a market worth billions of euros.
"We are opening a formal investigation to see whether Mondelēz, a key producer of these products, might have restricted free competition in the markets concerned by implementing various practices hindering trade flows, ultimately leading to higher prices for consumers," European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
The Commission said potentially anti-competitive practices include agreements which block traders from selling products in some EU countries and others which increase prices or limit volumes for traders who sell products across the bloc.
It said the company also imposed restrictions on languages used on packaging and may have refused to supply certain traders aimed at curbing imports into certain markets.
Mondelēz faces fines as much as 10% of its global turnover if found guilty of breaching the bloc's antitrust rules.