Ohio counties solicited bids for road salt from Cargill and Morton Salt.  The two companies divided up the counties and hiked up prices:

James Canepa, a deputy inspector general for the state Department of Transportation, said the pricing practice ”crystallized” in 2008 when Morton and Cargill were the only suppliers that presented bids for salt in Ohio’s 88 counties.

In no instance did the companies present bids against each other, Canepa said. At the same time, prices spiked, shortages were reported and salt companies enjoyed record profits, he said.

”Not once in 88 counties did they bid head-to-head,” Canepa said. ”And the counties that they bid were the same ones that they won previously. Those are their incumbencies. Those are their, quote, customers. So, 2008 really crystallized the carve-up of counties.”

But no explicit communication took place and a Cargill spokesman:

pointed to a statement in the first page of the report that says ”we failed to find evidence that the two companies communicated on salt bids.”

”We never did or would talk to competitors about bids,” he said.

(Hat tip Matt)

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