Mar 09, 2023
By Jane Brown
The heads of Canada’s major grocers say you’re paying more for food because of inflation not greedflation.
“We at Empire are not profiting from inflation. It doesn’t matter how many times you say it, write it or tweet it, it is simply not true,” Empire Company President and CEO Michael Medline told a parliamentary committee Wednesday, “The truth is, we’re at the end of a very long food supply chain that has economic inputs at every step and stage.”
He was joined by Loblaw Chair and President Galen Weston in Ottawa appearing before the parliamentary agriculture committee to answer questions about record high food prices in the face of record high profits.
“Food prices have increased 25 times faster than profit, and at Loblaw, none of those profits came from higher food margins,” Weston explained.
Their testimony came amid calls from federal politicians, including Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, for the industry to be more transparent about what is driving its record-high profits.
Grocery prices were up 11.4 per cent in January compared with the same month a year earlier, nearly double the overall rate of annual inflation of 5.9 per cent.
Research by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University found Loblaw’s gross profit in the first half of 2022 beat its previous best results by $180-million.
The CEOs were asked whether they would commit to sharing detailed financial statements with the Competition Bureau, which is studying whether a lack of competitiveness in the grocery industry may be contributing to higher prices.
They said they were doing so and indicated support for a new grocery code of conduct.