Is CMA doing anything about bakery sector issues?
Two years since Real Bread Campaign complaint, the Competition and Markets Authority gives tight-lipped brush off.
On 30 March 2021, the Real Bread Campaign co-ordinator submitted concerns about the bakery sector to the Competition and Markets Authority. Having heard nothing since April 2021, the Campaign followed the case up in January and February 2023.
On 22 February 2022, the CMA sent what appeared to be a generic response:
"Thank you for contacting us again.
What action has the CMA taken following my enquiry?
Enquiries such as yours that are received by the CMA, form part of our intelligence gathering about a sector of the UK economy. We make use of a variety of intelligence sources when it is appropriate to act, both in terms of considering whether to take enforcement action and in conducting studies into industries within the UK economy. However, we are not able to provide any details of our intentions regarding your enquiry or any others that we should receive.
Why have I not been provided with an update about my enquiry?
You will only be aware any investigation that we open when the details of that are published on our website. We cannot discuss this in advance is to avoid providing confidential information that might be related to the businesses and industries about which enquirers have complained. The release of such information could also prejudice the outcome of any case we may take on and lessen the chances of us gaining a successful outcome.
Does this mean CMA has not taken my enquiry forward?
The fact that you have not received further communication from us does not necessarily mean that we are not doing anything. In addition to our more formal tools, such as an enforcement case, we can and do request individuals and companies to change their practices. We use several measures to achieve successful outcomes, which range from issuing individuals and companies with advisory letters, warning letters or by prosecuting. This also allows us to take an agile approach as such procedures can avoid us getting into protracted and expensive formal investigations and allow us to make a greater impact as a result. However, you will not be informed about such interventions if we choose to make them, as outlined above.
What happens next?
We hope you now understand that we cannot enter into more correspondence on this issue with you and that we have reassured you that we may investigate it if your enquiry has merit.
However, we aim to deal with members of the public fairly and properly and if you remain unsatisfied with the CMA’s handling of your enquiry, please consider our corporate complaints policy."
Real Bread Campaign co-ordinator Chris Young said: “We just can’t understand how the CMA can be so dismissive of these problems in the bakery sector, which employs tens of thousands of people, with a combined turnover of billions of pounds, all funded by the hard-earned cash of the majority of households in the UK. I’m sure the CMA has plenty on its plate but silence for nearly two years, followed by a cut-and-paste email telling us nothing, except to go away, is just rude.”
Published 22 Feb 2023
Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.
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