Competition authorities have blocked Jersey Royal Potato Marketing’s bid to expand.
Shareholders produce 50% of the Jersey Royals grown on the island. Growers contracted to supply JRPM produce another 40% of the island’s crop, with the remaining 10% grown by rival Jersey Quality Produce.
JRPM’s strategy is to integrate growers into the business by giving them shares in return for their land and machinery.
But the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority has put a stop to further deals because it is concerned at the effect a
monopoly could have on local businesses supplying inputs such as fertilisers.
Tim Ward, JRPM sales manager, said that JRPM would fight the decision. “It’s a nonsense because there’s nothing to stop us from buying our products direct from the UK or Europe. We don’t have to buy them from local companies.”
Ward said that he expected the JCRA to reverse its decision once JRPM had submitted a defence of its merger strategy.
“We have got to apply for the right to merge the businesses. We will have to delay some of our plans by about six months.” Ward also said that JRPM still hoped that JQP would link up with JRPM to create a single marketing organisation.
“There are ongoing talks. Unity on such a small island makes a lot of sense.”
But Philip Le Maistre, JQP director, said JRPM’s refusal to market anything other than potatoes was a major stumbling block. JQP has reduced its dependence on potatoes and is now growing more organic courgettes and cauliflowers.
Le Maistre said: “We have struggled to get our potatoes into the major supermarkets and we have realised we have to grow what we can sell.
“JRPM is solely interested in potatoes. We would still need a separate marketing company for the other produce.”
Richard Clarke