If you find yourself rushing to the nearest grocery store to prepare for the holidays, you may want to question your supermarket allegiances. Earlier this week, it was revealed that the nation's biggest supermarket chain has been price-fixing its bread in order to gouge more money out of customers.
Yesterday, news broke that Loblaw Companies Ltd. surrendered to authorities following an investigation by Canada's Competition Bureau. This tidbit comes after the independent law enforcement agency raided Loblaws, Metro, and Sobey's in a bid to stop the big three from unfairly jacking up prices of selected products. Loblaws admitted to their own fraudulent scheme, but both Sobey's and Metro denied any wrongdoing.
According to a report from the Toronto Star, Loblaws—which operates roughly 2000 locations throughout Canada—partook in the price-fixing arrangement for a decade-and-a-half, beginning in 2001 and ending in 2015. In an official statement released shortly after the initial story broke, current Loblaws president and CEO, Galen Weston Jr., deflected blame onto other corporations and claimed that multiple executives corroborated with Loblaws' scheme.
"Under the arrangement," the press release begins, "the participants regularly increased prices on a coordinated basis. The participants included Loblaw and the Weston Bakeries division of George Weston as well as other major grocery retailers and another bread wholesaler, some of which have acknowledged being searched by the Competition Bureau as part of its ongoing investigation."
Because Loblaws admitted fault and cooperated with the Competition Bureau, it's unlikely for them receive any criminal charges. And in a rather desperate attempt to get ahead of the story, the company is now offering gift cards worth $25 to anyone affected by the price-fixing. Many are rightly applying for their own rebate, while others contribute to a thoughtful and considerate movement brewing on social media; sending their $25 credit to those in desperate need of assistance.