Major Canadian Grocers Work to Lower Escalating Food Prices

29

After enduring frustration with escalating food bills, Canadians are on the cusp of relief. Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has announced that major grocers are taking proactive steps to address rising prices. In promising news for consumers, these measures include price freezes and price-matching campaigns.

The Minister delivered an update on the preliminary commitments made by Loblaw, Metro, Empire, Walmart, and Costco. He reported that these five leading retailers have collectively agreed to roll out various actions across their stores aimed at lowering grocery prices for Canadians in the imminent future.

Follow us on Google News! ✔️


Promising aggressive discounts on a basket of key food products — those representing the most important purchases for most households — the government envisions this as merely the first among forthcoming steps to control pricing in the sector.

Champagne noted that this bold stance emerged from the government’s dialogue with these major grocers, signalling a more competitive dynamic between the big five. “The winners… are obviously Canadians,” he asserted, encouraging people to judge and make the most of the upcoming offers.

As part of the initiative, the federal government is setting up a “grocery task force” within the Office of Consumer Affairs. This body will monitor the commitments and actions of different players in the food industry on a monthly basis, tasked with the responsibility to investigate harmful practices like ‘shrinkflation’ and ‘dequaliflation’.

Champagne revealed ongoing plans to establish a grocery “code of conduct” to encourage fairness and transparency in the market. Additionally, a new food price “data hub” is in the pipeline, aimed at improving access for Canadians to crucial information about the price of food.

These proactive steps have come about after Champagne engaged in a series of meetings with the senior leaders of Canada’s five major grocery chains. The ultimate goal is to formulate a plan to stabilize food prices, a progress that began over the last few weeks. Further dialogue has been established with international and domestic manufacturers too, in response to the Retail Council of Canada’s call for broader engagement in the supply chain to address the issue.

In response to this development, Retail Council of Canada’s spokesperson Michelle Wasylyshen stated that the grocers are singular entities with diverse approaches and abide by competition laws. Hence every grocer will address this challenge based on its individual submission to the government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had warned grocers earlier, stating that their lack of cooperation would result in punitive measures, given their record profits amidst the struggle of many Canadians to afford food.

Champagne assured that the current government will not hesitate to introduce additional measures if the current steps prove inadequate in stabilizing food prices. “Everything is still on the table,” he declared, signalling a serious commitment to addressing this pressing issue.

The price of food and the inflation contributing to it has been a prevalent issue on Parliament Hill. The political pressure has escalated recently, with the Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh highlighting the problem. Jibes regarding the exorbitant price of a Butterball turkey symbolized broader concerns reagrding affordability highlighted by Poilievre and Singh.

Despite the cost of most food items having increased year-over-year in August, the federal Liberals are pushing ahead with changes to Canada’s Competition Act. The focus is to strengthen protections in relation to current grocery sector competition through Bill C-56, “The Affordable Housing and Groceries Act.”

This amendment, if passed, would enhance the Competition Bureau’s capacity to investigate and penalize unfair practices in the sector like price gouging and price fixing, providing a more level playing field for smaller competitors to set up shop nearby. The clock is ticking on this legislative move as Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland urged Poilievre to end the procedural delays, emphasising an urgency in passing this bill.