Montreal

Class action over bread price fixing authorized by Quebec judge

A Quebec Superior Court judge has given the green light to a class-action lawsuit over the alleged fixing of bread prices. 

Documents allege country’s largest grocers, bakery wholesalers conspired to artificially inflate bread prices

The class action targets Loblaw Companies Ltd., George Weston Ltd., Metro Inc., Sobeys Quebec Inc., Walmart Canada Corp., Canada Bread Company Ltd. and the Giant Tiger chain. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

A Quebec Superior Court judge has given the green light to a class-action lawsuit over the alleged fixing of bread prices. 

The request for the lawsuit was filed in October 2017 and concerns anyone in the province who purchased at least one packaged loaf of bread between Jan. 1, 2001 and Dec. 19, 2019 — the day the request was accepted. 

It targets Loblaw Cos. Ltd., George Weston Ltd., Metro Inc., Sobeys Quebec Inc., Walmart Canada Corp., Canada Bread Company Ltd. and the Giant Tiger chain.

The Competition Bureau searched the offices of several grocers in 2017 as part of its investigation into allegations of price fixing. 

Court documents allege the country's largest grocers and bakery wholesalers conspired to artificially inflate the price of bread and related products by at least $1.50 from 2001 to 2017. 

George Weston and Loblaws admitted to participating in an agreement to fix the price of bread for more than 10 years.

The class action seeks, among other things, that the defendants be ordered to pay an amount equal to the revenues generated by the "artificially inflated portion of the price of pre-packaged bread sold in Quebec," according to the decision of Quebec Superior Court Justice Pierre Gagnon.

The lawsuit also requests that interest be paid. 

The court will examine a number of questions, including whether the defendants conspired to undermine competition for bread.

A separate class-action was filed in Ontario in 2017. 

At the time, Loblaw Companies and George Weston Ltd. issued a statement admitting to a price-fixing arrangement and confirmed they alerted the competition Bureau after discovering the alleged scheme in 2015. 

At the same time, Loblaw announced a $25 gift card as a goodwill gesture to any eligible customers.

Based on a report by La Presse Canadienne

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