Major retailers say federal bread pricing probe underway

(Stephen Ausmus photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Major Canadian grocery retailers Metro and Loblaw say a federal investigation is underway concerning the pricing of certain commercial bread products.

Toronto-based Loblaw and its parent firm, George Weston Ltd., announced Tuesday they’re aware of an “industry-wide investigation” by the federal Competition Bureau concerning a “price-fixing scheme involving certain packaged bread products.” The two companies added they are “co-operating fully.”

Montreal-based Metro also said Tuesday it’s aware of a Competition Bureau investigation into “supply of commercial bread,” concerning “certain suppliers and Canadian retailers.” Metro added that it “fully co-operates with the authorities.”

A Competition Bureau spokesperson, reached by email late Tuesday, said the bureau’s investigations are, by law, conducted confidentially.

The bureau said it can confirm it’s “conducting searches related to a criminal investigation into allegations of anti-competitive conduct contrary to the conspiracy provision of the Competition Act.”

The bureau said it was granted search warrants from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Ottawa, based on evidence of “reasonable grounds to believe that certain individuals and companies have engaged in activities” contrary to the Act.

That said, the bureau emphasized there’s “no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time and no charges have been laid.”

Weston’s retail chains includes Loblaws, Superstore, Provigo, No Frills and Maxi + Cie, while its bakery businesses include ACE Bakery, Ready Bake Foods and Weston Foods, which produces Country Harvest, Wonder and D’Italiano breads among others.

Montreal-based Metro operates stores in Quebec and Ontario under banners including Metro, Super C, Food Basics, Marche AMI and Marche Richelieu. –– Network


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