Consumer goods are items you buy for yourself or your home. This means products like food, tobacco, clothing, footwear, wood/rubber/glass/ceramic/plastic and metal products, detergents, cosmetics and perfumes, household appliances, watches and clocks, furniture, musical instruments, sports goods, toys and tools.
People are directly affected if competition in the consumer goods sector is weak. So, the European Commission aims to safeguard competition for the benefit of consumers.
The Commission's Competition DG has investigated a range of cases involving various products in this sector, both under Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (restrictive business practices) and Article 102 TFEU (abuse of dominant position).
In December 2012, the Commission fined seven international groups of companies a total of EUR 1.47 billion for participating in either one or both of two distinct cartels in cathode ray tubes ("CRT"). CRTs are important components of both televisions and computer monitors. The Commission also fined members of a cartel in CRT glass EUR 127 million in October 2011.
In April 2011, the Commission fined Procter & Gamble and Unilever a total of EUR 315.2 million for operating a cartel together with Henkel in the market for household laundry powder detergents in eight EU countries. The three companies are the leading producers of washing powder in Europe.
Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the Commission in charge of competition policy, said at the time of the detergents decision: "... companies should be under no illusion … that the Commission will give up on its relentless fight against cartels, which are the worst violation of competition rules by extracting higher prices from consumers than they would pay when companies compete fairly and on the merits."
See also the speech: "Consumer-goods markets: A litmus test for competition policy" (14 May 2013)
See more summaries of cases linked to household products
More lists of cases by sector