EUROPE – The European Commission has undertaken surprise inspections at two companies operating in the online food, groceries, and consumer goods delivery sector in two member states.
The inspections are prompted by concerns over potential violations of EU antitrust rules prohibiting cartels and restrictive business practices.
The European Commission emphasizes that these raids do not imply guilt or wrongdoing on the part of the companies under investigation.
These unannounced inspections follow a series of similar actions carried out by the Commission in the preceding year, all linked to apprehensions about potential breaches of competition laws.
While the Commission did not disclose the names of the companies or countries involved, it confirmed that the ongoing raids are connected to those conducted in July of the previous year.
In response to the inspections, a spokesperson for Delivery Hero, one of the companies under investigation, stated, “We can confirm that the European Commission has conducted an inspection at our offices in Berlin and Barcelona. The fact that the Commission carries out such an inspection does not mean that the Commission has concluded that there has been an actual infringement of competition law nor does it prejudge the outcome. Delivery Hero is committed to cooperating fully with the Commission.”
The scope of the investigation, initially focused on alleged market allocations, has now been expanded to include additional conduct, such as alleged no-poach agreements and exchanges of commercially sensitive information within the online food delivery industry.
The European Commission clarified that unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in investigating suspected anticompetitive practices and that the companies involved are not presumed guilty.
The duration of the inquiries will vary based on factors such as case complexity, the extent of cooperation by the companies, and the exercise of their rights of defense.
As online food ordering continues to gain popularity, the competition in the European food delivery market intensifies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the demand for food delivery services, creating expectations for sustained growth in the sector.
Amid this competitive landscape, companies are leveraging big data and AI analytics to optimize business models and enhance user experiences in the online food delivery market.