* Napier Brown complains of abuse of dominant market
* ABF says any regulator would find it acted appropriately
* Separately, German refiners recently fined over cartel
By David Brough
LONDON, Feb 25 Napier Brown, a unit of The Real
Good Food Company, has complained to Britain's Office of Fair
Trading (OFT) alleging an abuse of a dominant position by
British Sugar, a major supplier to Napier Brown.
In its third quarter trading update issued this month, The
Real Good Food Company said "instability in the sugar market is
giving us short-term challenges."
"It is very disappointing that we find ourselves in the
position where a major supplier is, in our view, abusing its
dominant market position in the supply of sugar to us," said
Pieter Totté, executive chairman of The Real Good Food Company.
"If British Sugar is allowed to impose a price on Napier
Brown, its largest customer and the UK's largest reseller of
sugar, without any reference to market pricing, the consequent
impact on UK customers and consumers would be significant."
British Sugar, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods
(ABF), is a leading sugar supplier in Britain.
A spokesperson for ABF said the commercial dispute between
the two companies was not a matter upon which it was appropriate
"The matter was recently considered by the relevant
regulator, the OFT who has undertaken a preliminary high level
assessment, listened to the respective parties and in February
took a decision not to open an investigation."
The OFT has now confirmed to representatives of Napier Brown
that the complaint has been referred to the new Competition and
Markets Authority (CMA), the successor to the OFT, which begins
operating on April 1, 2014, RGFC said.
However, the ABF spokesperson said there had been no
"referral", as that term was commonly used, to the new CMA.
"We understand that the OFT will make the CMA aware of the
complaint and its decision not to investigate," the spokesperson
said. "British Sugar is confident that were the CMA or any other
regulator to look at this matter it would find that British
Sugar has acted appropriately."
Europe's largest sugar producer, Germany's Suedzucker, said
last Tuesday it had been fined 195.5 million euros ($268
million) by Germany's cartel office for past collusion with
other sugar producers.