The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said that its initial investigation into veterinary specialist Eville & Jones’ acquisition of Vorenta has found competition concerns.
The two veterinary businesses perform inspections on animal products in the UK to ensure they are safe for human consumption as well as ensuring that animal welfare standards are maintained in meat establishments such as farms and abattoirs.
The CMA said the competition concerns it identified are in relation to the supply of meat hygiene inspections in England and Wales as well as the supply of export health certificates.
These certificates are required by exporters of animal products outside 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 UK competition regulator said its investigation found that the combined businesses would account for a significant proportion of these specialised veterinary services providers in England, Wales and Scotland.
According to the CMA, this could lead to a significant lessening in the competition and result in higher costs for food businesses and lower quality in the provision of these services which are in place to safeguard the general public.
Eville & Jones now has five working days to offer legally binding proposals to the CMA to address the competition concerns that its investigations have identified.
The CMA will then have a further five working days to consider whether these address its concerns, of if the case should be referred to an in-depth Phase 2 investigation.
Senior director of mergers at the CMA, Sorcha O’Carroll, 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.”