Baxters cleared to buy Fray Bentos

Scottish food group Baxters has been cleared to complete the acquisition of the canned food brand Fray Bentos from Princes after receiving approval from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Princes agreed to sell the brand for an undisclosed sum in November in order to address competition concerns raised by its merger with the canning business of Premier Foods.

The OFT said the Princes merger would not be referred to the Competition Commission and that it had carefully assessed and consulted publicly on Princes’ undertakings, as well as on the suitability of Baxters as a purchaser.

OFT chief economist Amelia Fletcher said: “This merger would have led to a near-monopoly in the provision of canned pies in the UK.

“However, the sale of the Fray Bentos brand to Baxters will restore pre-merger levels of competition for the benefit of consumers. The OFT believes that Baxters, with its extensive experience in the sector, is a suitable purchaser for the business.”

Manufacturing of Fray Bentos products will transfer over the next year from Long Sutton in East Anglia to Baxters’ production facility in Fochabers.

Fray Bentos is best known for its range of canned meat pies, including steak and kidney and minced beef and onion.

Baxters produces a range of premium food products, including soups, sour pickles, sweet sauces, preserves and salad accompaniments.

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