ontario news watch

Trudeau calls on major grocers to create plan to stabilize food prices

LONDON, Ont. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling on grocery executives to come up with a plan to stabilize food prices or face consequences.

He says the government will be asking the five largest grocery companies including Loblaw, Metro, Empire, Walmart and Costco to come up with a plan by Thanksgiving.

“If their plan doesn’t provide real relief for the middle class and people working hard to join it, then we will take further action and we are not ruling anything out including tax measures.”

The call comes as grocery prices rose 8.5 per cent in July, showing a slight easing of price growth but still running much hotter than overall inflation.

Major grocers have faced accusations of profiteering as food prices have climbed, though executives from Loblaw, Metro and Empire denied these allegations before a parliamentary committee studying food inflation earlier this year.

The Retail Council of Canada said in a statement Thursday that grocer prices and profits have nothing to do with rising food prices, pointing instead to higher costs being passed on from food manufacturers and producers.

The group said that any discussions on food pricing need to also include processors, manufacturers and other relevant businesses in the supply chain.

“We are not going to take part in discussions that time and time again fail to look below the surface as to the true cause of rising grocery prices.”

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who is taking the lead on the grocery price push, said at Thursday’s press conference that the government would also be engaging other segments of the food industry.

“We’re going to start with the five largest grocer in Canada represent about 80 per cent of the market, and we’re going to be in solution mode with very clear deadlines and very clear outcome for Canadians. And together we’re going to look also at large food processors,” he said.

“We’re going to bring them in Ottawa, talk to them around meaningful action and if they fail to do so there’ll be consequences.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:L, TSX:EMP.A, TSX:MRU)

The Canadian Press