The CMA indicated the deal could hit competition in categories such as sausage rolls

The CMA indicated the deal could hit competition in categories such as sausage rolls

The UK's competition watchdog is ready to launch an in-depth investigation into Pork Farms' acquisition of Kerry Group's savoury pastry assets in the country.

Pork Farms announced a deal in August that set out for the company to take on facilities in Spalding and Poole.

However, the Competition and Markets Authority said yesterday (17 December) it had found there is a "realistic prospect" the transaction would lead to a "substantial lessening of competition" in branded, own-label and convenience cold pies, the supply of sausage rolls, pasties and slices - when considered in combination - or the supply of sausage rolls when considered individually.

It also said competition would be hit in the supply of own-label hot pies.

The deal will be subject to what the CMA called "an in-depth phase two investigation" unless Pork Farms "offers acceptable undertakings to address the competition concerns in a clear-cut manner", the watchdog said.

Andrea Coscelli, executive director for markets and mergers at the CMA, added: "These are very popular products which are currently produced by a small number of manufacturers. This merger will further reduce the choice available to retailers and consumers and may give the merged company the ability to raise prices or reduce the quality of these products. Unless Pork Farms offers undertakings that resolve these concerns, we think it is necessary to investigate the merger in greater detail to see whether it could harm consumers' interests."

Pork Farms and Kerry had not returned request for comment at the time of writing.