The UK’s competition watchdog will hold an in-depth probe into Pork Farms’ planned purchase of Kerry Group’s savoury pastry assets in the country.
Last month, the Competition and Markets Authority said it would launch a so-called “phase 2 investigation” into the acquisition if Pork Farms did not provide “undertakings” to meet the watchdog’s concerns about the deal, which was announced in August.
The CMA had said the acquisition could lead to higher prices or reduced choice for consumers looking for chilled savoury pastry products including sausage rolls, pasties and slices.
Today (5 January), the CMA said Pork Farms had not come forward with any undertakings and the deal would now be scrutinised. A final decision will be announced by 21 June.
Pork Farms declined to comment on whether it had not provided any undertakings to the CMA and would not be drawn on what it thought of the regulator’s decision to launch the investigation.
In a statement, the company said: “We can confirm that Pork Farms continues to work closely with the CMA to ensure that it has all the necessary information to inform the review process.”
When the CMA warned in December it could look to open the phase 2 investigation, Pork Farms made a similar statement about providing “all the necessary information” to the regulator.
However, at the time, Pork Farms added: “We continue to believe that the transaction will provide our customers with a streamlined, more responsive and better invested supply chain, reflecting the increasingly competitive retail landscape that we are seeing in today’s markets as consumers’ shopping habits change. Quality, choice, service and value have always been at the core of our business and this remains the case.”
This article was updated on 6 January at 11:56 GMT.