UK competition officials are to examine the country’s infant formula market after finding prices in the sector had jumped in recent years.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) today (20 February) launched a “market study” into the supply of infant formula in the country.

In November, as part of a wider look at competition in the UK grocery sector, the CMA said the average price of infant formula had risen by 25% over the previous two years.

Through the study, the regulator said it “will now be able to use its compulsory information gathering powers, rather than rely on firms providing information voluntarily”.

The majority of the infant formula sold in the UK is marketed by two companies – Nestlé and Danone.

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In January, amid a flurry of headlines in the UK highlighting the prices of infant formula products, Aptamil owner Danone cut the wholesale price of its Aptamil infant-formula by 7%.

Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA, said: “Infant formula is a key part of the weekly shop for many parents across the UK, who rely on these products to ensure their baby gets all the essential nutrients they need.

“Whilst it’s a positive sign that prices of some products have fallen since our update last November, the cost of infant milk remains at historically high levels. We’re concerned that parents don’t always have the right information to make informed choices and that suppliers may not have strong incentives to offer infant formula at competitive prices.”

Cardell added: “We are determined to ensure this market is working well for the many new parents who depend on infant formula.”

The report will look at various facets of the sector, including barriers to entry and rules on how products can be marketed. The CMA intends to conduct the study “as swiftly as possible” and is aiming to publish its report in September.

The regulator added: “Any recommendations to the government resulting from the work will now also have a formal status.”