Another bread cartel?

Price increases for bread on the Baltic wholesale market are sparking allegations of price-fixing by bakeries in Estonia and Lithuania.

VILNIUS — Lithuania’s Ministry of Agriculture is recommending that the Competition Council investigate local bakeries for possibly operating a price-fixing cartel after prices increased upon news of Russia’s grain export ban earlier this month.

Russia’s grain export ban put in after it was struck with wildfires, sending grain prices jumping worldwide. In Lithuania bread prices have increased by a small percentage on the wholesale market, although this has not affected shelf prices yet.

The Council has not decided whether to launch a criminal investigation or not, as is happening now in Estonia into the same issue.

“Bread manufacturers’ conduct currently seems doubtful, because the ministry notes that this year’s grain to produce flour has not been harvested yet,” the Ministry of Agriculture report reads.

Like their Estonian counterparts, several Lithuanian bakeries denied the ministry’s allegations in statements to the press.

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