combine is a beneficent one
formed to save industry in 1915
Toronto, Feb. 17:
"They can investigate what they like," said J. Laing
Stocks, manager of the Canadian Canners, commenting on the Ottawa
dispatch that the Board of Commerce had decided to investigate the
dealings of the Dominion Canners and his firm.
"I have no objection
to being called a combine; but it is for the good of the trade,
and it did, in fact save the industry from total destruction in
1915. It is nonsense to say that we limit the output -- and it is
equally nonsense to say that we fix the price for retailers."
A little private
investigation, says the Toronto Telegram, showed that there
is a lot in what Mr. Stocks claimed.
A local grocer is charging
15 cents for canned pumpkin, for which he admits he paid $1 a
dozen. This makes a gross profit of 80 per cent for the grocer.
The top price for the best canned peas, including the grocer's
profit, should be 21 cents. The actual retail price in Toronto is
around 32 cents.
The facts, it is stated,
are that in 1915 the canning industry was on its last legs. The
strongest firms owed the banks immense sums. The reasons for this
were that each factory had been put to tremendous expense in
selling its goods. They had accumulated stocks in the wholesale
stores and the factories themselves were cutting each other's
throats. The cost of handling the goods had, in fact, turned what
should be reasonable profits into staggering losses.
Canadian Canners Ltd., was
formed to cure this state of affairs. This firm buys the goods
direct from the factories and distributes them. Factories are by
no means obliged to sell to Canadian Canners. Canadian Canners say
confidently that they cannot do this without selling at a loss.
It is admitted that the
output is controlled. Each factory concerned is compelled by the
Canadian Canners to keep up its production. As to prices:
Tomatoes, for instance, before the war were sold at 90 cents to 95
cents a dozen tins. The cost of labor and boxes has doubled since
then and cans have risen in price from 1.75 cents to 4.25 cents
each. The price per dozen at the present time if $1.65.
It is claimed that both
wholesalers and retailers are now finding canned goods a quick
turnover, though the 1915 arrangement and that the public has been
benefited by it; for without it the canned goods trade would have
suffered failure upon failuree and would probably have gone under
The profits have been
about 10 per cent per annum. This year a big loss will be made on
fruits and the profits are not expected to be over six per cent.
The Cost of Living
Commission has already investigated Canadian Canners, and one
member of that commission gave it as his opisnion that "if it
was a combine it was a beneficent one."
This is the case for the
Canadian Canners. It is on record that the Privy Council has
decided that if it brings benefit to the public, a combine is not