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Coles to acquire one of the largest producers of chilled ready meals in Australia

Supermarket giant Coles is a step closer to purchasing one of its major customers.

The ACCC has stated that the commision will not oppose the proposed acquisition of Jewel Fine Foods by Chef Fresh Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Coles Group.

Jewel Fine Foods (Jewel), which has been in voluntary administration since April 2019, manufactures a range of branded and private-label chilled ready meals. Coles does not currently manufacture these products, but is Jewel’s major customer.

B&J City Kitchen tried to acquire Jewel in September last year but the ACCC opposed the decision on the basis that it would be likely to substantially lessen competition for the supply of chilled ready meals.

Stephen Ridgeway, ACCC Commissioner said Coles’ acquisition of Jewel ensures that there will still be two major suppliers of chilled ready meals.

Jewel manufactures a range of branded and private-label chilled ready meals from its facility in Banksmeadow, New South Wales.

Jewel and B&J City Kitchen are the major suppliers of chilled ready meals in Australia. Coles is Jewel’s major customer, and Coles is one of the largest retailers of chilled ready meals, but Jewel has also had supply arrangements with other major national retailers.

Stephen said The ACCC investigation focussed on whether other retailers would be foreclosed if Coles acquired the business. 

“We found that Woolworths already has supply arrangements with Jewel’s competitor, B&J City Kitchen, and that other retailers have other options,” he said.

“We are pleased that the administration process will end with Jewel’s business continuing as a going concern and competing with other suppliers,”

“The continuation of Jewel’s production of chilled ready meals is a better outcome for competition than liquidation of the assets.”

Stephen said the ACCC investigation commenced before the current increase in demand for groceries, “however we consider our decision remains appropriate”.

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