The China probe into infant formula prices rumbled on this week

The China probe into infant formula prices rumbled on this week

China's investigation into the alleged fixing of infant formula prices rumbled on this week as Beijing claimed companies at the centre of the investigation were knowingly breaking the law. More firms moved to lower prices, including Mead Johnson, Meiji and FrieslandCampina. Elsewhere, Kroger struck a deal to buy regional supermarket chain Harris Teeter, while just-food spoke with the CEO of Walkers Shortbread's US arm and the newly-appointed managing director of Futura Foods following the sale of a stake in the company to Danish dairy firm Nordex.

Speaking about companies at the centre of China's investigation into anti-trust violations in the dairy sector, the China State Food & Drug Administration says anti-trust officials at the National Development and Reform Commission "believe these companies are involved in limiting competition on milk prices, driving up the price of milk; weakening competition between brands, serious damage to the interests of consumers, and undermining the fairness of market competition".

"You just have to look at the demographics of the customers in that channel. They are overwhelmingly higher-educated, affluent, well-travelled people and that's exactly our target" - Steve Dawson, CEO of Walkers Shortbread's US arm, explains as he sets out why Walkers is looking to expand sales in the US natural channel.

"Nordex are in the UK but it only has a very small [presence]. The biggest reason why it is difficult is that retailers and customer want original feta and halloumi products" -Newly-appointed managing director of Futura, Kenneth Axen, says Nordex has struggled to gain a foothold in the UK.

"Shuanghui intends to retain Smithfield's management team, its plants and its employees" - Smithfield Foods CEO Larry Pope moves to try and reassure US lawmakers the sale of the meat giant to China's Shuanghui International will not affect US exports and food security.

"We are determined to fight for our business in the Goulburn Valley and the future of Australian food processing" - SPC Ardmona MD Peter Kelly says the news that Australia's new anti-dumping body has agreed to look into claims that South Africa is dumping peaches into the country, validates the hard work its undertaken over the last few months.

"An important building block of our business in China is our partnerships with Chinese companies" - Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke at the opening of two plants in China.

"This is one of those opportunities where you put our dots on the map for our stores and for their stores and it's a great fit" - Kroger CFO Michael Schlotman said the company does not expect to close any Harris Teeter stores following completion of the acquisition.

"It's also critical that we take the tough decisions necessary to improve the longer term profitability and sustainability of the milling business by aligning our capacity to market needs" - Bob Spooner, MD of Premier Foods plc's bread division outlines the reasons for closing its milling facility in Wales.

"We've planned a year with healthy levels of sales and earnings growth" - General Mills CFO Don Mulligan says innovation will fuel growth in fiscal 2014.

"During its co-operation with the investigation, Biostime Guangzhou realised that those terms which provide fixed prices and price floors for the group's products in its agreements entered into with its distributors, may be allegedly in breach of sub-articles 1 and 2 of Article 14 of [the] Anti-Monopoly Law of the People's Republic of China" - Biostime says deals with distributors may have broken rules on pricing.

"It is possible for the two companies to form joint ventures and develop new brands in the future, but these are not under discussion right now" - a Yili spokesperson explains its alliance with Dairy Farmers of America to form a venture that will serve China's fast-growing dairy market.