Competition authority to investigate food manufacturer’s acquisition

Competition authorities are to investigate food producer Tulip’s purchase of Easey Holdings.

Tulip, which produces Danepak bacon and is owned by Danish Crown, agreed a deal on Friday for pig farmers Easey.

Easey is a family-owned pig farming operation consisting of four key divisions – breeding herds, growing herds, a veterinary practice and a livestock transport business.

Andrew Saunders, agriculture director at Tulip’s farming division, Tulip Agriculture, had confirmed that Easey would continue to operate independently and “existing customer and supplier contracts and commitments will also be honoured”.

However the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has now decided to launch a phase one investigation, which seeks to establish whether there is a realistic prospect that a merger will cause a substantial lessening of competition.

If it finds that there is, it will then launch a phase two investigation that could request remedies or ultimately block a deal.

Warwick-based Tulip had been in discussions with the CMA before the deal was announced, having first shared details on September 1.

When it went public with the deal this week it said it represented “an investment in British farming and also inward commitment to the UK” by its Danish parent.