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Canada Bread blames former owner Maple Leaf Foods for price-fixing scheme

The bread supplier that admitted to price-fixing earlier this year says any anti-competitive behaviour it participated in was at the direction and to the benefit of its then-majority owner Maple Leaf Foods.

In a statement of defence for a class-action lawsuit alleging a bread price-fixing scheme, Canada Bread denies participating in a “lengthy, wide-ranging conspiracy” to fix the price of bread.

It also denies profiting from the alleged conspiracy, or from the price increases it pleaded guilty to participating in as part of the Competition Bureau’s investigation.

A Maple Leaf senior vice-president says allegations of improper pricing conduct at Canada Bread while Maple Leaf was a shareholder are “totally unfounded.”

In June, Canada Bread was fined $50 million after pleading guilty to four counts of price-fixing bread products under the Competition Act.

WATCH | Canada Bread agrees to pay $50M fine for role in price fixing scheme: 

Bread wholesaler fined $50M for price-fixing

The company that provides bread to millions of Canadians under brands like Dempsters has been handed the largest price-fixing fine ever: $50 million. The company pleaded guilty following an investigation by the Competition Bureau.

Mexican food conglomerate Grupo Bimbo bought Canada Bread in 2014, and when it agreed to the fine it placed the blame squarely on the previous owners, saying “only learned about the price-fixing arrangements after the Competition Bureau executed a search warrant against Canada Bread on Oct. 31, 2017.”

The Competition Bureau began investigating alleged bread price-fixing agreements in 2016.

It alleged at least $1.50 was added to the price of a loaf of bread during the 16-year conspiracy involving Canada’s largest bakery wholesalers and grocery retailers.

The class action lawsuit alleges that the defendants conspired to fix the price of packaged bread in Canada, and is on behalf of all residents of Canada who purchased packaged bread after November 1st, 2001, except for residents of Quebec and parties related to the defendants.

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