Register for the $25 Loblaws card and think about passing it along to a local food bank.

background 100By Pepper Parr

December 27th, 2017



We are going to be looking at those rows of bread on the supermarket shelves a little differently for some time.

The price of the product has been fixed by at least one supermarket for the past 14 years. Confirmed parties who were part of the investigation include Canada Bread, Sobeys and Metro Inc. The companies say they are cooperating with investigations by the Competition Bureau.

Bread shelves

We will look at shelves like this quite a bit differently for some time. At least one supermarket has admitted that they were fixing the price of bread for 14 years.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. is offering customers a $25 gift card as a goodwill gesture after admitting the company participated in an industry-wide bread price-fixing arrangement.

Visit and enter your email address to be notified once registration opens. The company expects registration to begin on Jan. 8.

Why the $25 amount
“This is our effort to respond directly to our customers, acknowledging ultimately our specific accountability in what was an industry-wide arrangement,” said Galen G. Weston, CEO. “We’re trying to go directly to our customers and let them know how serious we’re taking the situation,” he added.

“This conduct should never have happened.” We hope that they’ll see it as a meaningful amount that demonstrates our commitment to keeping their trust and confidence.”

Price fixing is something that is governed by the federal Competition Bureau and it apparently is something very difficult to detect and then even more difficult to prove.

The rules that govern what the Competition people do work like this: The first company that fesses up and squeals on all the others gets a Get out of Jail free card – none gets charged criminally and the company pays a huge fine.

The company expects three million to six million people will receive the gift card. The company says it expects to take a charge of between $75 million and $150 million.

There are going to be some class action suits – the lawyers will benefit most from that.

What is particularly galling is this: In a report in the Toronto Star a number of months ago there was the following:

“Loblaw Companies Ltd., Canada’s largest grocery and drugstore operator, warned Wednesday that minimum wage increases in Ontario and Alberta threaten to harm its bottom line and it will have to find ways to cut costs.

“The company, which owns Shoppers Drug Mart and grocery chains including Loblaws and No Frills, estimates that the wage hikes will mean its labour expenses will balloon by about $190 million next year.

“We are flagging a significant set of financial headwinds and the organization is mobilizing all of its resources to see whether or not it can close that gap,” Loblaw chair and CEO Galen Weston Jr. told analysts during a quarterly earnings conference call.

At about the same time George Weston Ltd. (TSX:WN) reported a 189% increase to its first-quarter profit, mostly because of improved results from its stake in Loblaw (TSX:L).

The Toronto-based company, which also owns the Weston Foods bakery business, had $107 million or 83 cents per share of net income for common shareholders in the quarter ended March 25.

There is something wrong with a society that reports a company experiencing a profit increase of 189% in just one quarter that admits to fixing the price of bread for a period of 14 years and at the same time complains about the financial hit they are going to take when the minimum wage is increased to $14 an hour.

Some community organizations are asking people to register for the Gift Card and pass it along to the local food bank.  Pressing the government to push for a higher value on the Gift Card would seem appropriate as well.

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5 comments to Register for the $25 Loblaws card and think about passing it along to a local food bank.

  • Stephen White

    Galen Weston’s conduct and the behaviour of his Board and senior management team are an absolute disgrace! The Competition Bureau makes a mockery of our legal system by even allowing companies to admit to collusion and then permitting them to come up with clever marketing ploys to reward aggrieved customers while feigning remorse. I’ll be the average Canadian family spent a lot more than $25 on bread over the past 14 years.

    Company executives who engage in this kind of behaviour should go to jail.

  • Penny

    I agree that this gift card should go to Food Banks. Milk, eggs, and cheese are always needed. The one suggestion I would make is that when the gift card is used, only buy $25.00 worth. The grocery chains expect that you will use this to reduce the cost of a full order. Doing this means that you are still providing profit to the store. If you only use the $25.00 then that means that on that order the store has made no profit.

  • Luke

    Said Galen G. Weston, CEO. “We’re trying to go directly to our customers and let them know how serious we’re taking the situation,” he added.
    “This conduct should never have happened.” We hope that they’ll see it as a meaningful amount that demonstrates our commitment to keeping their trust and confidence.”

    Loosely translated; Now that we have obtained Legal Immunity for ourselves and our subsidiary’s we can come clean with the RCMP and Combines Act Investigators, whom we hope will be prosecute the remaining co-conspirators to the fullest extent of the law both criminally and via civil litigation. Our wildest dream is that they will be so financially ruined that this will allow us to sweep up the remaining competition thereby solidifying our status as the nations leading grocer.
    Going forward we anticipate that by offering a paltry $25 coupon to those who are erstwhile and patient enough to subject themselves to our ridiculous application process, wherein we will collect ridiculous amounts of data to capitalize on in the followup promotions which will initially focus on our “Mea Culpa” but mercilessly crush our competitions integrity.

    Despite the fact that this price fixing scheme which we admitted, we were party to for nearly 10 years, has has been a moral, ethical and legal black eye, we now know that with legal immunity we are going to be supremely positioned to go forward stronger than any of our less than honest competitors, who did not get immunity.

    We are confident that all persons who were affected negatively by ours and our co-conspirators scheme consider the price of bread to be entirely insignificant on basis of their annual grocery bill, this is of course the reason we were party to it in the first place.
    Further we believe that the masses who cannot count money much beyond 5 significant digits before giving up will see the $25 coupon as a “Good Settlement” despite the fact an individual easily spends well upwards of $50 per year, >$400 on this staple for the duration of this ripoff, we at the George Weston and Loblaws, Shoppers, No Frills, etc., group of companies have profited handsomely from the program and now we have a nifty Tax write-down courtesy of Rev-Can and the Combines investigation team.
    Even if half of all Canadians were successful to realize the $25 coupon bonanza, (insert photo of self with that condescending snot eating grin here), our shareholders will still be getting dividend cheques, party time.
    I smell a rather fat bonus check for myself next Christmas or perhaps even at the shareholders meeting this spring that will make the purchase of my own island nearby to the Khan’s an achievable objective this coming year.

    With many thanks from my family to yours Galen.

  • CMG

    You can register for a card at Better yet, keep the card and give the cash to the food bank ~ they need it, and it doesn’t limit them in their purchasing.
    I suspect this is the tip of the iceberg, and we will soon find more such corporate gouging.

  • How about an expose of the outrageous price fixing that the gas companies perpetrate? Interesting to see the price of a litre of gasoline uniformly increase four cents a litre a couple of days before Christmas, then go down again the day after Christmas. Hmm….