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UK competition watchdog to probe infant formula market

Britain's antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will investigate the country's infant formula market in relation to its 25% price increase over the last two years. Rising baby milk formula costs have been highlighted amid Britain's cost of living crisis, with reports saying that some parents are diluting it to feed their children, according to Reuters. Danone, producer of Aptamil and Cow & Gate, and Nestlé, which makes SMA, stand as the largest players in the market, accounting for 85% of sales. CMA has initiated a market study, enabling it to use its mandatory information collection capabilities instead of depending on voluntary submissions from firms. The regulator stated its intention to publish its final report by September 2024, highlighting its commitment to assessing potential issues in the baby formula market and determining appropriate actions to address them. Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA, said: "Infant formula is a key part of the weekly shop for many parents across the UK, who rely on these products to ensure their baby gets all the essential nutrients they need". "Whilst it’s a positive sign that prices of some products have fallen since our update last November, the cost of infant milk remains at historically high levels. We’re concerned that parents don’t always have the right information to make informed choices and that suppliers may not have strong incentives to offer infant formula at competitive prices." "We are determined to ensure this market is working well for the many new parents who depend on infant formula, and it’s essential that any changes we propose are based on evidence and a strong understanding of the market. That’s why we’ve now decided to take forward our work on infant formula as a market study, using our formal legal powers."

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