Bread maker pays $38 million in price fixing settlement

Canada Bread, one of the nation’s largest bread makers, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to price-fixing and agreed to pay a fine of Can$50 million (US$38 million).

The fine is the highest ever imposed by a Canadian court for price-fixing.

In a statement, the Competition Bureau said the company admitted in court to colluding with its competitor, Weston Foods, to raise the prices of various breads such as sandwich bread, hotdog buns and rolls.

It pleaded guilty to four counts of price-fixing under the Competition Act.

The scheme inflated prices as far back as 2007. At the time, Canada Bread was owned by Maple Leaf Foods, but was sold for Can$1.8 billion (US$1.4 billion) in 2014 to Mexico-based Grupo Bimbo, which said it only learned about it when an investigation was launched in 2017.

“Fixing the price of bread — a food staple of Canadian households — was a serious criminal offense,” competition commissioner Matthew Boswell said.

The bureau, he added, continues to investigate alleged price-fixing by other companies, including grocers Metro and Sobeys, Wal-Mart, Giant Tiger and Maple Leaf Foods.

Weston Foods and others received immunity from prosecution after exposing the scheme.

amc/caw

© Agence France-Presse

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