The bakery along with Bimbo-owned Canada Bread and Loblaw Companies is under investigation by the Canadian government for possible price-fixing.
However, the grocery chain said the investigation is not the reason for it to disassociate with Weston Bakeries.
“We’ve informed Weston Bakeries of our decision to reduce the number of suppliers for the commercial bread area,” Anika Malik, Walmart Canada’s spokesperson, said.
“The decision was motivated by commercial reasons, not the Competition Bureau investigation,” she added. “We continue to strive to provide our customers with the best value and service for all products.”
Véronique Aupry, spokesperson at Canada’s competition bureau, said George Weston Limited (owner of Weston Bakeries) and Loblaw Companies are the “immunity applicant,” as the companies admitted participating in a cooperative scheme to fix the wholesale and retail price of fresh commercial bread in Canada.
Other local retailers under investigation for allegedly engaging in “anti-competitive conduct contrary to the conspiracy provision of the Competition Act” include Sobeys, Metro and Giant Tiger, added Aupry.
“The Bureau’s Immunity and Leniency programs provide incentives for parties to come forward to secure immunity or leniency in return for their cooperation against others involved in the cartel,” said Aupry.
“These programs have both proven to be effective means of uncovering and breaking cartel activities prohibited by the Competition Act. Without them, many cartels would go undetected.”
Weston Bakeries and Loblaw Companies did not comment on the matter.
Aupry noted the investigation is still ongoing.
“Where there is sufficient evidence of a cartel offense, the Commissioner of Competition may refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for criminal prosecution,” she said.