The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today announced it will oppose the proposed acquisition of Rafferty’s Garden by Heinz.
Heinz and Rafferty’s Garden are the two largest suppliers of wet and dry infant food in Australia. A merged Heinz/Rafferty’s Garden would have accounted for around 80 per cent of the share of sales in the wet infant food market and around 70 per cent in infant cereals and infant snacks.
Most sales of infant food products occur through the major supermarket chains.
“The ACCC concluded that the proposed acquisition is likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition through the removal of Rafferty’s Garden, which has around 40 per cent market share in wet infant food and is a close and effective competitor of Heinz, which also has around a 40 per cent market share in wet infant food” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The proposed acquisition would combine the two largest suppliers of wet and dry infant food in Australia, resulting in highly concentrated markets where barriers to entry and expansion are high, particularly because of brand recognition and preference. This is likely to reduce the frequency and depth of promotional activity, increase prices and reduce innovation in the wet and dry infant food markets,” Mr Sims said.
In reaching its decision, the ACCC carefully considered the dependence of both Heinz and Rafferty’s Garden on the major supermarket chains for stocking their products.
“We are not satisfied that the power possessed by the major supermarket chains will necessarily constrain prices for consumers or drive innovation. Fierce inter-brand competition is more likely to achieve this,” Mr Sims said.
Heinz supplies a range of wet infant food in cans, glass jars and pouch/pouch-and-spout packaging. Rafferty’s Garden supplies wet infant food in pouch/pouch-and-spout packaging only. Both companies supply dry infant products, including cereals, snacks and teething rusks.
The ACCC extensively consulted on the proposed acquisition, focussing on whether removing Rafferty’s Garden would reduce competition in the current market structure.
A Public Competition Assessment outlining the ACCC’s reasons for its decision will be available on www.accc.gov.au in due course.
Use this form to make a general enquiry.