Europe Busts 30-Year-Old Cartel For Manipulating Phosphate Prices

phosphorus crisis

The European Commission just busted a long-standing cartel in the world’s oldest industry: animal feed.

10 companies were fined $161 million for manipulating phosphate prices from 1969 through 2004, according to European Voice:

Three companies – Kemira Oyi, Yara Phosphates and Yara Suomi Oy – were not fined because they informed the Commission about the cartel and co-operated during the investigation. Eight companies received a 10% reduction in their fines for co-operating with the Commission.

Some of the companies had their fines reduced because the cartel had been operating for so long that the financial penalties they incurred would have exceeded the maximum limit of 10% of a company’s 2009 turnover. Tessenenderlo Chemie NV, a Belgian company, received a 50% reduction in its fine, while and José de Mello of Portugal received a 25% reduction.

Knowledge of the cartel puts volatile moves in the market under a new light.

Could the 20th century surge in phosphate use have been even greater? Did the end of price manipulation contribute to the 800% spike in 2008? And what happens now that the cards are on the table?

Read more: 15 Facts You Absolutely Need To Know About Phosphorus

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