Grupo Bimbo-owned Canada Bread has been put on a list of banned suppliers of federal contracts after being found guilty of price-fixing.
The Canadian government has added the company to its list of ineligible and suspended suppliers, which means it cannot be considered for federal supply contracts. Canada Bread has previously held contracts with Canada’s Defence Department and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The ban lasts until August 2033.
The company was fined C$50m ($38m) in June after pleading guilty to four counts of price-fixing from more than a decade ago in an Ontario courtroom.
Canada Bread, behind brands including Dempster’s and Villagio, admitted to arranging price increases with its competitor Western Foods for products such as sandwich bread, hot dog buns and rolls.
The offences relate to a time before the company – one of Canada’s largest bread suppliers – was owned by Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest bakery business.
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It took control of Canada Bread in 2014 and said it did not learn of any price-fixing allegations until 2017 when a government investigation into the matter began.
Canada’s Competition Bureau, which has led the price-fixing probe, is still investigating a number of other companies in the same inquiry.
In December 2017, Canadian food group Weston Foods and supermarket Loblaw, both subsidiaries of George Weston, announced their participation in what they described as an “industry-wide price-fixing arrangement” involving the coordination of retail and wholesale bread prices.
In exchange for their full cooperation with the Competition Bureau’s investigation, Weston, Loblaw and George Weston received immunity from prosecution.
In June, after its fine was announced, Alice Lee, vice president at Canada Bread, said: “Under new ownership, Canada Bread is committed to being a responsible partner to our valued customers and making bread an accessible and reliable food source for Canadians. We are pleased to have resolved this matter, and we look forward to building upon our investments in Canada.”
Just Food has asked the Canada Bread and Grupo Bimbo for their response to the former being banned from supplying federal contracts, outside Canadian and Mexican business hours.
Also in June, The Competition Bureau’s Retail Grocery Market Study called for increased competition in the country’s grocery market.
It urged the country’s government to implement policies to support independent grocers, pointing out that in 2022 Canada’s three largest grocers – Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro – collectively reported more than C$100bn in sales and earned more than C$3.6bn.