canada bread price fixing

Canada Bread fined $50 million after pleading guilty to price-fixing

Canada Bread has been fined a massive $50 million after pleading guilty for its role in one of the largest price-fixing scandals in Canadian history.

The producer and distributor of packaged bread products was fined by the Ontario Superior Court on Wednesday after it pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal price-fixing under the Competition Act.

Canada Bread admitted that it colluded with its competitor, Weston Foods, to increase prices for various bagged and sliced bread products like sandwich bread, hot dog buns, and rolls.

The price-fixing resulted in two price increases, one in 2007 and one in 2011.

"Fixing the price of bread — a food staple of Canadian households — was a serious criminal offence," said Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell in a statement. "Our continuing investigation remains a top priority. We are doing everything in our power to pursue those who engage in price-fixing."

According to the Competition Bureau of Canada, Canada Bread was owned by Maple Leaf Foods at the time of price-fixing. The senior leadership responsible for implementing price-fixing is no longer with the company.

Canada Bread was acquired by Grupo Bimbo in 2014 and the new owner only learned about the past incidents of price-fixing in 2017.

"Since then, under Grupo Bimbo's ownership, Canada Bread has provided full and consistent cooperation with the Competition Bureau," reads a statement on the Canada Bread site.

Grupo Bimbo added that it's considering all legal options against those responsible for the issue.

The $50 million fine is the maximum applicable under the law, according to the Competition Bureau. Still, Canada Bread received the highest price-fixing fine imposed by a Canadian court to date.

The guilty plea is the result of an ongoing investigation by the Bureau into alleged price-fixing between producers to raise wholesale bread prices, as well as alleged price-fixing between grocery stores to raise retail prices.

The bureau continues to investigate alleged price-fixing by other companies, including Metro Inc., Sobeys Inc., Wal-Mart Canada Corporation, Giant Tiger Stores Limited, and Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

Many Canadians have also called for an investigation into Loblaw for "profiteering and greedflation."

Lead photo by

Laura James/Pexels

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