The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has referred the anticipated partnership between ForFarmers and Boparan for an in-depth investigation.

The CMA said yesterday (Tuesday, January 10) that the text of its decision would be published by the statutory deadline of June 25, 2023.

The authority’s initial investigation into the proposed joint venture between ForFarmers and Boparan, which are both manufacturers of poultry feed, began in October of 2022.

If partnered, the companies plan to combine their animal feed milling operations to enable them to operate 19 mills between them in the UK.

Following its phase-one investigation, the CMA found that the deal raises competition concerns in four areas across East Anglia, northwest England and north Wales.

In these areas, the proposed partnership could lead to higher prices for poultry feed, lower quality feed or worse quality of service, the CMA said in December 2022.

The CMA believes that because both businesses currently compete within each of the four local areas, that the combined business would not face sufficient competition.

The authority is also concerned that the joint venture could unfairly favour Boparan’s chicken farming and processing businesses, resulting in less choice for smaller chicken farmers and processors, who may rely on ForFarmers and Boparan for their chicken feed.

Senior director of mergers at the CMA, Sorcha O’Carroll, said: “Feed is the biggest expense faced by farmers when rearing chicken, the UK’s favourite meat.

“With food prices already increasing and the wider cost-of-living crisis, it is vital that we don’t allow a reduction in competition between poultry feed suppliers, which could make this situation worse – both for farmers and shoppers at the check-out.”

The CMA said that ForFarmers and Boparan now have five working days to submit proposals to address its concerns.