As inflation continues to effect grocery bills, the federal government has summoned the chiefs of Canada’s biggest grocery chains to Ottawa this fall to begin discussions on a strategy to decrease food costs for Canadians.
The corporations have been entrusted with developing a plan to stabilize rates by Thanksgiving, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday as he celebrated the end of the Liberal cabinet retreat in London, Ont., ahead of the return of Parliament next week.
If the grocers do not come up with a plan that delivers “real relief” for middle- and lower-income Canadians, Trudeau warned the government will take further action to push them to do so.
He cautioned that this could involve tax increases.
The prime minister stated that the leaders of Canada’s five largest grocers — Loblaw, Empire Co., Metro, Walmart, and Costco — will have the finest overall view of their business and what can be done to reduce prices. These five businesses control nearly 80% of the Canadian grocery sector.
He cautioned that this could involve tax measures imposed on the major grocery chains.
Food price inflation has consistently outperformed general inflation, which was 3.3% in July. Food inflation, on the other hand, was 8.5 percent in the same month, indicating a minor slowing of price growth compared to earlier this year.
Simultaneously, Loblaw, Empire, and Metro have all reported strong profit growth in their most recent quarters. Trudeau’s declaration came only hours after Empire said that profits were up nearly 40% year over year, or $73.5 million. Profits at Walmart and Costco, both American firms with Canadian subsidiaries, have also increased.