Latest News

26 February

US FTC launches bid to block Kroger, Albertsons merger

US competition officials at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have moved to block the merger between Kroger and Albertsons, two of the country’s largest retailers. 

The FTC and a group of US Attorneys General have launched a legal bid to stop the deal, first announced in October 2022 and subsequently reshaped to try to gain regulatory clearance. 

In a statement, the FTC argued the transaction would be to the detriment of the retailers’ staff and customers. The combined retailer would have “more leverage to impose sub-par terms” on employees, the regulator asserted.  

Consumers would face higher grocery prices and the enlarged retailer would have less “incentive to compete on quality”, the regulator suggested. 

Kroger and Albertsons dismissed the concerns. A spokesperson for Albertsons said: “We look forward to presenting our arguments in court.”

6 February

EU moves to scrap pesticides reduction rule in bow to farmers

A proposed EU rule to cut the use of pesticides in agriculture is set to be scrapped in the wake of farmer protests. 

The plan was first put forward in 2020 under the so-called Green Deal to create a sustainable food system across the EU. The aim was to reduce the use of pesticides in farming in the EU by 50% by 2030. 

European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the “proposal has become a symbol of polarisation” and has been “rejected” by the European Parliament. 

Brussels has also put forward changes to rules on fallow land and a mechanism to curb exports from Ukraine amid protests from farmers across the bloc. 

The proposals allow farmers to use derogations from Common Agricultural Policy rules requiring them to keep certain areas non-productive. 

The Commission also wants an “emergency brake” on imports of poultry, eggs and sugar from Ukraine.

20 February

UK competition regulator to examine infant-formula market

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

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

The CMA’s new “market study” will allow the regulator 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. 

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

The CMA intends to conduct the study “as swiftly as possible” and is aiming to publish its report in September. 

8 February

Kellanova to close sites in North America, Europe

US-based cereal giant Kellanova has set out proposals to close two factories as part of efforts to drive efficiency and increase productivity. 

The company is planning to shut one plant in North America and one factory in Europe. 

Kellanova said it wanted to reorganise its frozen supply chain network in North America to improve the productivity of its operations in the market. The affected plant is expected to close by the end of the year. 

In the UK, the Rice Crispies maker plans to close a factory in Manchester by the end of 2026. 

Chris Silcock, Kellanova’s UK managing director, said: “You can’t escape the fact the site opened in 1938. It’s laid out in a way that made sense in the 1930s, with food travelling up and down six floors to be made.”

Kellanova said 520 jobs will “stay in Greater Manchester as the company recommits to its MediaCity office in Salford”. The company has its UK headquarters in MediaCity.

7 February

Lactalis under investigation in France amid tax fraud allegations

Lactalis, the privately-owned French dairy major, is under investigation for potential tax fraud in a case dating back to 2018. 

The Paris home of Lactalis CEO Emmanuel Besnier was reportedly raided by a French police department in connection with the probe. The dairy company’s headquarters in the town of Laval in the Pays de la Loire region and an office in the capital were also visited by police, according to Le Monde

Parquet National Financier (PNF), or the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, confirmed to Just Food the “searches” were conducted by “OCLCIFF investigators (BNRDF) in the presence of PNF magistrates”. However, PNF did not confirm the location or nature of the premises. 

PNF said the “amount of duties likely to have been evaded over the period 2009-2020 is estimated at this stage at several hundred million euros”. 

Lactalis said: “The searches were conducted smoothly and in an orderly manner and are part of a procedure that relates to events from several years ago that have already been examined by the authorities.”