Canada’s Federal Government Summons Grocery Chain CEOs for Talks on Lowering Food Prices

by Ella

Canada’s federal government is taking decisive action to address the ongoing challenge of rising food costs and its impact on Canadians. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that he is summoning the chief executive officers (CEOs) of major grocery chains in Canada to Ottawa this autumn for discussions aimed at devising a comprehensive plan to mitigate the escalating expenses of food items, given the backdrop of inflation affecting household grocery budgets.

Trudeau emphasized that these companies will be entrusted with the task of formulating a strategy to stabilize food prices in time for Thanksgiving. The government intends to hold these CEOs accountable for providing “real relief” to middle- and lower-class Canadians through effective measures. Should these efforts fall short of expectations, the government will not hesitate to explore potential tax measures to ensure that Canadians find relief from high food prices.


Prime Minister Trudeau voiced his concerns, stating, “It does not make sense in a country like Canada that our largest grocery chains should be making record profits while Canadians are struggling to put food on the table and we’re seeing record usage of food banks.”


The CEOs of Canada’s top five grocery chains, including Loblaw, Empire Co., Metro, Walmart, and Costco, will play a pivotal role in these discussions. Together, these companies constitute approximately 80% of Canada’s grocery market, affording them a comprehensive view of industry dynamics and potential solutions.


Food price inflation has consistently outpaced overall inflation for several months, with July’s food inflation rate reaching 8.5%, compared to the general inflation rate of 3.3%. This situation has coincided with continued profit growth reported by major grocery chains such as Loblaw, Empire, and Metro.


Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne conveyed the government’s expectation that these CEOs will engage in discussions in Ottawa next week. The government also intends to study how other G7 nations and international partners have tackled food price inflation to inform its conversations with Canadian grocers.

Major grocery chains have faced allegations of profiteering amidst rising food prices, although executives from Loblaw, Metro, and Empire refuted these claims earlier this year during a parliamentary committee examining food inflation. These Canadian companies, which also own pharmacy chains and other businesses alongside grocery stores, have attributed increased profits to factors such as strong sales of non-food items.

The Retail Council of Canada contends that rising vendor costs due to supply chain issues, climate change, and global events like the war in Ukraine are the primary drivers of grocery price increases, suggesting that discussions should include vendors to address the root causes of rising food prices.

An industry committee has been working on a grocery code of conduct aimed at ensuring fairness along the grocery supply chain in Canada. Additionally, the Competition Bureau recently released a study calling for increased competition in Canada’s grocery industry to keep food prices in check. It noted that major grocers have increased their profits from food sales over recent years, collectively reporting around $3.6 billion in profits in the last year alone.

While Loblaw and Metro directed inquiries to the Retail Council of Canada, Empire did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the government’s announcement. Trudeau’s announcement regarding food prices is part of a broader effort to address Canadians’ concerns about the cost of living, amid recent poll numbers indicating a decline in support for the Liberal Party, with many Canadians believing the Conservative Party is better equipped to address affordability and housing issues.



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