Good thing gluten free became a thing, or think of how much money you’d have spent on price-fixed bread these past few years. Apparently, a person buying two loaves of bread a week probably over-paid $25 a year because of the scheme… and the scheme lasted 14 years. Still, now that Loblaws has come forward and reported an industry-wide fix on the price of bread, supermarkets have to clean up more than aisle six. They have reputations to mop and scrub.
In an act of contrition, Loblaws is offering a $25 card that can be redeemed at LowblawCard.ca. CEO Galen G. Weston said during a conference call with analysts, “This conduct should never have happened. The gift card is a direct acknowledgement of that to our customers.”
Weston says that price fixing took place from 2001-2015. The class action lawsuit about the scheme names George Weston Limited, Loblaw Companies Ltd, Weston Foods Inc, Empire Company Ltd, Sobeys Inc, Metro Inc, Wal-Mart Canada Corp, Wal-Mart stores, Giant Tiger Stores Limited, Canada Bread Company Limited as defendants. Some chains, such as Metro and Sobeys say they didn’t violated Canada’s Competition Act.
Price fixing is difficult to determine. It requires an agreement, whether written, verbal, or inferred, among competitors to raise, lower, or stabilize prices or competitive terms. It happens in many industries and is often hard to prove. Most recently, price fixing was found in chocolate (2013) and gasoline (2004).
Whether you are a Loblaws shopper or not, you can sign up to get a card. The registration starts January 8, 2018 and will continue until May 8, 2018. It is open to everyone 18 years and up in Montreal, provided they are willing to declare that they bought certain packaged bread products at one of the eligible banner stores in Canada before March 1, 2015.