Coca-Cola may stop deliveries if the beverage manufacturer believes the prices are not right. The district court of Hamburg withdrew a delivery stop ban demanded by the grocer Edeka.
In the dispute between the beverage manufacturer Coca-Cola and Edeka over purchase prices, the grocer lost out. The Chamber for Commercial Matters of the Regional Court (LG) Hamburg on Thursday lifted the injunction of September 8th and in its judgment rejected Edeka’s demand for a delivery stop ban, as a court spokesman for the dpa said (Az. Az. 415 HKO 72/22). Edeka announced that it would decide on further legal steps after examining the reasoning behind the judgement. Coca-Cola was satisfied with the court decision.
In the opinion of the chamber responsible for commercial matters, Edeka has not made it sufficiently credible that the prices charged by Coca-Cola deviate significantly from those that would most likely result from effective competition. The comparison of the percentage price increases made by Edeka with a view to a Coca-Cola competitor and the comparison with the price development of beer and mixed beer drinks is not sufficient for this.
In addition, there is no reason for disposal, i.e. a very special urgency for the grocer that would justify forcing Coca-Cola to continue supplying the goods at the previous conditions. Because while Coca-Cola would not have the possibility of a later subsequent claim if the delivery was continued under the previous conditions, Edeka could very well claim back an allegedly excessive price afterwards, the court spokesman explained.
No exploitation of the dominant position
At the beginning of September, when the temporary injunction was issued, the court saw the situation differently and prohibited Coca-Cola from stopping deliveries. The beverage manufacturer had previously stopped supplying Germany’s largest grocer because Edeka had rejected demands for higher prices. At that time, the court assumed that Coca-Cola was abusing a dominant position in the market by setting the price and enforcing it with the help of a delivery stop and that it was behaving in violation of antitrust law.
“We are still convinced of this rating,” said an Edeka spokesman. Edeka has been in tough negotiations with the branded goods industry for months and examines every price increase very carefully. “Many of the price increase demands put forward are not based on real cost increases.” Instead, the reference to general inflation is used as a welcome argument to further improve its own profit margin, the spokesman said.
Coca-Cola, on the other hand, was satisfied. “Edeka’s claim that the price increase was inadmissible or disproportionate was thus invalidated and rejected,” said Vice President Andrea Weckwert, who is responsible for legal issues. From Coca-Cola’s point of view, the court decision is trend-setting for future price negotiations. This also means that manufacturers only deliver products to customers who accept the applicable prices – just as retailers claim to take products out of their range in order to emphasize their demands.