The Canadian government today, Reuter reports, imposed criminal penalties on Nestle and Mars for colluding to fix the price of chocolate:
The three executives [one each from the candy companies, another from a wholesale distributor] face up to five years in prison if convicted, while the companies and the executives could each be fined up to $10 million.
The Competition Bureau has been probing the allegations of price fixing for five years in a scandal that has already resulted in a major class-action suit.
Both Mars and Nestle said they intend to “vigorously defend” themselves against the allegations.
Not every company targeted by the investigation is in so much trouble:
Canada’s Competition Bureau recommended lenient treatment for the Canadian arm of Hershey Co, which cooperated with the investigation. Hershey said it had reached a deal with the bureau, and would plead guilty to a single count of price fixing.
In its statement Hershey expressed regret for its actions and blamed workers who had already left the company.
“The current Hershey Canada senior management team as well as The Hershey Company and its management had no involvement in this conduct,” the statement said.
But I’m less interested in why Canada targeted Nestle and Mars over Hershey, than I am in its decision to target chocolatiers over other kinds of confection-makers. You may recall the breathless headlines back in August, when thieves made off with $18 million worth of maple syrup from Canada’s “global strategic maple syrup reserve.” If not, you probably remember when the Daily Show did a bit on it back in February.
The maple syrup reserve, explains the Atlantic, exists to manipulate supply and demand for the sticky sweet stuff in the global marketplace — in other words, it works hard to make sure you never have to resort to slathering your pancakes with “breakfast syrup”: