In the dispute between the beverage manufacturer Coca-Cola and Edeka over purchase prices, the grocer lost out. The Hamburg Regional Court lifted the preliminary injunction from September 8 and in its judgment rejected Edeka’s demand for a ban on deliveries, as a court spokesman for the German Press Agency said. 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 so-called reason for disposal, i.e. a very special urgency for the grocer that would justify forcing Coca-Cola to continue supplying goods under 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 demand back an allegedly excessive price afterwards, the court spokesman explained.

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 had 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 was displaying anti-trust behavior.

“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 is examining 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 one’s own profit margin, said the spokesman.

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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 points the way 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 the range in order to emphasize their demands.

The Markenverband argues similarly. “It is as essential as it is self-evident that the delivery requires an up-to-date agreement between suppliers and buyers on the purchase price,” said Managing Director Christian Köhler. If this does not happen, the association believes that it is a necessary consequence that no delivery can take place. Accordingly, the interest group was surprised by the first decision of the court. But the district court has now straightened that out.

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