Friday, June 30, 2023

"Canada Bread pleads guilty in bread price-fixing scandal, will pay record $50-million fine"

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but 
the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, 
or would be consistent with liberty and justice. 
But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, 
it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary."
The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter X.

From Canada's The Star, June 21:

The plea agreement is the first to come out of the Competition Bureau’s seven-year investigation into one of Canada’s largest price fixing scandals.

Canada Bread has admitted to colluding with rival Weston Foods to set Canadian bread prices, marking a major development in the Competition Bureau’s seven-year investigation into one of the largest price-fixing scandals in the country’s history.

The plea agreement from Canada’s largest producer and distributor of fresh bread and bakery products includes a record $50-million fine for co-ordinating price hikes with Weston Foods in 2007 and in 2010-11.

At those times, Canada Bread was controlled by Maple Leaf Foods, itself controlled by the McCain family, while Weston Foods was a division of George Weston, the owner of Canada’s biggest grocer, Loblaw Companies, and controlled by the Weston family. Both bakers have since been sold to new owners.

“Effectively, this was a fraud on the public,” Justice Maureen Forestell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto wrote in a decision on Wednesday approving the $50-million sentence, which was jointly proposed.

“The offences had a far-reaching and long-standing impact on the victims,” Forestell wrote. “Bread is a dietary staple for many and these offences affected millions of consumers.”
It’s the first plea agreement to come out of the Competition Bureau’s seven-year investigation into allegations that some of the country’s largest commercial bakers and grocers fixed the price bread for years....


The investigation took seven years? In old-timey France the people would have been on their eighth or ninth riot:

From an October 14 post:

...If you've never studied mid/late 18th century French economic history it  can be summarized as:

Food got expensive.

There were riots. 

(oh, and Necker)

Pericles Press: France - The Economic History

—Chronology of Economic Events


Riots over prices in Le Havre and Nantes.
Riots in Rheims.
Government efforts to deal with shortages lead to popular rumors of a 'famine pact' among the nobility to starve the people.
May 10 - Louis XVI ascends to throne of France.
Poor harvest in the fall.
April 27-May - "Flour War"
Bread prices in Paris increase by over 50%..
Rioting starts at Beaumont-sur-Oise, spreads to Paris..
Hundreds arrested, two executed, before order is restored.
June 11 - Coronation of Louis XVI.
October 22 - Necker appointed Director of the Treasury.
Necker begins financing money for American War of Independence through governmental loans, rather than taxes. System will raise 520 million livres by May 1781.

....MORE(we haven't even gotten to 1789 and those years yet)