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Canada Bread to pay $50mn in fine after pleading guilty to having played a role in fixing the price of bread for years

Canada Bread has agreed to pay a $50 million fine after admitting to its involvement in a long-standing scheme to fix bread prices. The company confessed in an Ontario Court that it had engaged in frequent communication with a competitor, under previous management, to coordinate raising wholesale prices. This collusion resulted in higher costs for Canadian consumers.

Grupo Bimbo, the Mexican food giant, has owned Canada Bread since 2014, while Maple Leaf Foods previously owned the company. Court documents revealed that discussions about bread prices took place between Canada Bread and its rival, Weston Foods (Canada) Inc, which was owned by George Weston Ltd at the time, from 2007 to 2011.

According to the filed documents, the executives from both companies initially held talks in June 2007 and agreed to raise prices by six to seven cents per loaf in October of that year. Subsequently, in September 2007, they decided to increase prices by 12 to 14 cents per loaf starting the following month. Further price-fixing discussions occurred in January or March 2011, based on conversations held in November of the previous year.

Grupo Bimbo, now the owner of Canada Bread, clarified that it was unaware of the price-fixing scandal when it acquired the company. They stated that the due diligence process conducted by Grupo Bimbo did not uncover Canada Bread’s participation in such activities.

Although Canada Bread has pleaded guilty to the charges, Canada’s Competition Bureau has launched an investigation into other companies suspected of engaging in similar price-fixing practices. Commissioner Matthew Boswell emphasized the seriousness of this criminal offense and affirmed the bureau’s commitment to pursuing those involved in price-fixing.

The investigation is ongoing, and the authorities are determined to take action against any entities found to have engaged in unlawful price-fixing activities, as it undermines fair competition and harms consumers.


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