German authorities fined 21 meat producers a total of $461 million yesterday for colluding to fix the price of sausages. From Foreign Policy:
Some of Europe's biggest names in meat, including poultry producer Wiesenhof and Nestlé subsidiary Herta, were charged. Thirty-three individuals connected to the price fixing were also penalized. If this seems like a big penalty, it's a big industry: German slaughterhouses turned out 8.1 million metric tons of meat last year and had revenues of nearly $16 billion. And Germany produces more pork -- the main ingredient in most sausages -- than any other European nation.
The country's regulators have also fined a total of 11 brewers hundreds of millions of euros so far this year for similar infractions.
Despite its reputation for sausage snarfage, Germany is actually not among the world's top meat consumers per capita, trailing countries ranging from Austria and Italy to the United States and Canada to Iceland and Kuwait. This BBC piece suggests that animal welfare issues and concerns about meat farming's environmental consequences could be contributing to Germany's meatbivalence (meat ambivalence).