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U.S. probes pricing practices among chocolate companies

December 21, 2007|From Bloomberg News

Federal antitrust authorities are looking into pricing practices in the chocolate industry, Mars Inc., the maker of M&M candies, said Thursday.

Mars spokeswoman Alice Nathanson said in a statement that the privately held company was contacted by the Justice Department.

"We will cooperate with them if they initiate an investigation," Nathanson said. The inquiry was first reported Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

Nestle USA issued a statement saying it was aware of a preliminary inquiry into U.S. chocolate marketing practices: "We have not received any document requests, but plan to cooperate fully."

"We can't comment on legal matters, including ongoing investigations," Cadbury Schweppes spokeswoman Luisa Girotto said. "We would cooperate in any investigation."

Hershey Co. didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Canadian authorities said last month they were investigating Hershey and Nestle over allegations they were fixing prices for chocolate bars.

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