Coles cleared to enter ready made meals market

Coles have been given the green light to acquire Jewel Fine Foods through their subsidiary Chef Fresh, with the ACCC yesterday stating they would not oppose the purchase.

The Banksmeadow based business, who produce branded and private-label ready made meals, was placed into voluntary administration in April last year and had been a major supplier to Coles.

Without securing a sale, the business was likely be forced into liquidation and the ACCC said acquisition was their preferred outcome.

However, they had previously rejected an acquisition proposal by B&J City Kitchen, citing it would lessen competition. However, ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said Coles’ acquisition would ensure there remained two major suppliers in the category.

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

Research from IbisWorld put the prepared meals production industry’s Australian worth at $962 million with the market leaders including McCain Foods, G. D. Mitchell Enterprises, Heat to Eat Holdings and Simplot Australia.

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