News / Halifax

Grocery store price-fixing investigation into bread products extends to Nova Scotia

The federal Competition Bureau is investigating allegations of price-fixing of bread products in the grocery industry, and is conducting searches in N.S.

Various brands of bread sit on shelves in a grocery store in Toronto on Wednesday Nov. 1, 2017.

Doug Ives / The Canadian Press

Various brands of bread sit on shelves in a grocery store in Toronto on Wednesday Nov. 1, 2017.

The federal Competition Bureau’s investigation into price-fixing in the grocery industry extends to Nova Scotia, a spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.

The Bureau, an independent law enforcement agency monitoring Canadian business, confirmed on Tuesday that it was conducting a criminal investigation into collusion within the industry.

That prompted press releases from Ontario-based Loblaw Companies Ltd. (Atlantic Superstore’s parent company) and Quebec-based Metro Inc.

The Loblaw release said it and its parent company, George Weston Ltd., were “aware of an industry-wide investigation by the Competition Bureau concerning a price-fixing scheme involving certain packaged bread products,” and that the companies are cooperating fully.

“I can confirm that the Competition Bureau is conducting searches in Nova Scotia related to a criminal investigation into allegations of anti-competitive conduct contrary to the conspiracy provision of the Competition Act,” spokesperson Véronique Aupry told Metro in an email on Wednesday.

“By law, the Bureau’s investigations and inquiries are conducted confidentially. Therefore, I cannot comment further.”

The Competition Act prohibits “agreements between two or more persons to prevent or unduly lessen competition or to unreasonably enhance the price of a product.”

Aupry said if the Bureau discovers evidence of conduct in violation of the Competition Act, it “will not hesitate” to take appropriate action.

Metro Inc. does not operate stores in Nova Scotia. Sobeys, which is headquartered in Nova Scotia, is the only other major grocery chain in the province, and a call to its media representative Wednesday was not returned by deadline.

George Weston Ltd. also operates a number of packaged bread brands, including Wonder, D’Italiano, and Country Harvest.

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