Sugar complaint rejected

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority will not take forward Napier Brown’s complaint against British Sugar that the Associated British Foods-owned company was abusing its dominant market position.

The CMA informed Napier Brown owner Real Good Food Company yesterday that the complaint had not passed its prioritisation procedure.

The complaint centred on claims that British Sugar was taking advantage of its position as the UK’s dominant sugar supplier and was selling sugar to Napier Brown at prices well in excess of market levels .

The CMA stated that conducting a full investigation would, taking into account the complexity of the issues involved, require significant economic and legal resources and take at least two years to conclude.

The regulatory body concluded that the strategic benefits are outweighed by the risks and resources involved in pursuing the case.

British Sugar welcomed the ruling, adding it was “confident that it had acted appropriately at all times”.

However, Napier Brown said it was reviewing alternative plans to pursue its case, stating: “Napier Brown has an outstanding offer to take the complaint back to the European Competition Authorities in Brussels and intends to open discussions with them shortly.”

“The group suspects that the recent dramatic reduction in sugar prices may have contributed to the CMA believing that the market has sufficient competition. That may be so at present, when supply of sugar within the EU is plentiful, but the group remains concerned that when stocks tighten, which the Group believes they inevitably will, competition will prove less than sufficient.”

Napier Brown initially complained to the Office of Fair Trading in February and the case was taken up by the CMA when it replaced the OFT on 1 April.