Local History | Canadian Canners formed | Back
A lightly edited transcription of a page 4 article in the 4 Mar 1920 Simcoe Reformer newspaper.

Canadian Canners claim 
combine is a beneficent one

Company 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 entirely.

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 wrong. 

Copyright 2017 John Cardiff