Baby formula prices soar 25% in two years, as watchdog launches investigation into supplies

20 February 2024, 12:41

A new probe into the supply of baby formula milk has been launched by Britain's competition watchdog
A new probe into the supply of baby formula milk has been launched by Britain's competition watchdog. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The price of baby formula has risen 25% in two years, prompting a watchdog to launch an investigation into supplies.

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was looking into formula supply after reporting last November that the baby formula market was highly concentrated, with only two companies making up 85% of sales.

As a result, few parents had changed the company they bought from despite prices rising by a quarter on average over two years.

The CMA said that parents could save over £500 during the first year of a baby's life by buying cheaper formula.

The watchdog said that some prices had fallen since November, but that costs remain "historically high".

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The CMA's study will look into consumer behaviour, how regulation affects the market and the baby formula market industry more generally, such as barriers to entry and the potential for expansion.

It will produce a final report in September. If it finds problems, it could recommend new regulations on how formula is marketed or on the information given to parents to help them choose formula brands.

The study will also look at special medical formula milk, such as anti-reflux and comfort formulas, and so-called follow-on milk, as well as toddler milks.

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Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the CMA, said: "Whilst it's a positive sign that prices of some products have fallen since our update last November, the cost of infant milk remains at historically high levels.

"We're concerned that parents don't always have the right information to make informed choices and that suppliers may not have strong incentives to offer infant formula at competitive prices.

"We are determined to ensure this market is working well for the many new parents who depend on infant formula and it's essential that any changes we propose are based on evidence and a strong understanding of the market."

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