BERLIN (AP) — The German Federal Cartel Office raided the offices of seven candy and chocolate makers amid allegations of a conspiracy to fix prices.
Silke Kaul, a spokeswoman for the agency said the companies — including the German offices of Mars, Kraft Foods Inc., Nestle SA, and Ritter — had agreed at the beginning of the year to raise prices.
The Kraft Foods office in Germany confirmed it had been searched.
''We are cooperating with the Cartel Office. We are contributing our part to a speedy investigation,'' said Kraft spokeswoman Silke Troesch.
Troesch attributed the rise in chocolate prices to the massive increase — between 30 percent and 100 percent — in the price of raw materials in the past year.
The Cartel Office said it suspected that the companies had conspired with one another to raise their prices even higher than the increase in the price of raw materials, such as cocoa and nuts, would have demanded.