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Bread Wars: Fresno Baker Accuses Bay Area Rival of Stealing Trays



Bread Wars Lawsuit Story
The nation's bakers spend more than $10 million annually replacing stolen plastic bread trays. (American Bakers Association)
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A Fresno baking company is accusing a Bay Area rival of stealing its plastic bread trays in a lawsuit filed Monday in San Mateo County Superior Court.

“We’re not talking about isolated incidents – we’re talking about the ongoing, systematic theft of hundreds of bread trays … enough to fill a semi-trailer,” Fresno-based Athens Baking Company alleges in the lawsuit.

The owner of the smaller Pacific Coast Baking Company, which is based in South San Francisco, not only denies the claims but told the East Bay Times that Athens is a “gorilla” that “wants to crush us.”

We’re Missing Trays, Too, Says Pacific Coast Owner

Pacific Coast owner Bill Esposto likened the situation to similar occurrences with dairies and their milk crates. Athens and Pacific Coast are wholesale bakers who deliver to some of the same customers.

“Things get mixed up,” he said. “I’m missing thousands of trays just like they are. … We’re not out there following trucks around (and) stealing trays.”

Two photos accompanying Athens’ lawsuit show trays bearing the company’s name inside Pacific Coast’s loading dock.

$10 Million a Year in Tray Losses for Baking Industry

According to the American Bakers Association, the industry spends more than $10 million annually replacing stolen plastic trays. Two years ago, the association launched a campaign to crack down on tray theft.

Read more at the East Bay Times.

The organized theft of plastic bread trays is a federal crime. (American Bakers Association)


Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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