Merger could mean costlier and lower quality inspections for meat and food industry
The CMA investigation into Eville & Jones’ acquisition of Vorenta has raised competition concerns in the provision of various veterinary public health inspections, according to the Government.
Eville & Jones and Vorenta are providers of specialised veterinary services that support the UK meat and food supply chain. They perform essential inspections on behalf of public bodies and for private companies ensuring the animal products produced in, imported to, and exported from the UK are safe for human consumption. The companies also provide inspectors who ensure animal welfare standards are maintained in meat establishments such as farms and abattoirs.
Following its investigation, the CMA has found competition concerns in the supply of meat hygiene inspections in England and Wales.
These inspections are required for abattoirs and other meat establishments to be able to operate. The CMA also found competition concerns in relation to the supply of export health certificates which are required by exporters of animal products out of Great Britain, the supply of border control inspection services of animal products coming into the UK, and in the supply of agricultural inspection services in England.
The CMA’s investigation found that the combined businesses would account for a significant proportion of these specialised veterinary services providers in England, Wales, and Scotland. This could lead to a significant lessening of competition and result in higher costs for meat and food businesses and lower quality in the provision of these services which are in place to safeguard the general public.
Sorcha O’Carroll, CMA senior director of mergers, said: “The veterinary services supplied by the merging parties are important in ensuring the animal products sold in the UK are safe for human consumption and animal welfare standards are met.
“Losing the competition that takes place between Eville & Jones and Vorenta could result in food businesses and public bodies paying higher prices for inspections. Well run inspections ensure consumers have access to safe and affordable food products and that exporters can sell animal products without delays. Today’s decision will ensure businesses and consumers can get the best deal.”
Eville & Jones has five working days to offer legally binding proposals to the CMA to address the competition concerns identified. The CMA would then have a further five working days to consider whether these address its concerns, or if the case should be referred to an in-depth, Phase 2 investigation.