Brussels - European competition watchdogs announced on Tuesday €175m in fines for 13 companies which ran an animal feed phosphates cartel for more than three decades.
Members in various combinations fixed the market for chemical compounds used in feed for animals, from as early as March 1969 until February 2004, the European Commission said.
"They allocated market shares, feed phosphates sales quotas and customers among themselves, and coordinated prices and sales conditions when necessary," watchdogs said in a statement.
"After the pre-stressing steel case, I am again surprised that the main producers of a vital compound for animal feed abused a substantial part of the European animal feed market for nearly 35 years," said EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia, referring to a decision last month to fine 17 steel producers a total of €518m.
Companies from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain were fined after Finland's Kemira blew this whistle on the cartel in 2003.