Wednesday, May 29, 2024

‘I’m appalled’: Shoppers react to grocery price increases on the horizon

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The cost of groceries in Canada is reaching a tipping point, forcing many across the country to change their shopping habits or their diets.

“I’m appalled. I’m really appalled because there is no need for these prices to be so high,” one shopper named Gabriella told CTV News.

“I’m totally fed up. I mean, I have a fairly good pension, but it’s going to be eaten up with these types of things happening,” said another shopper.

On Tuesday Eric La Fleche, CEO of Metro Inc., said higher prices are coming to the company’s grocery stores as early as next week as a pause on price hikes from suppliers is set to come to an end.

“We are negotiating as best we can and delaying as much as we can some of the increases requested by our suppliers,” La Fleche told a virtual news conference.

“Unfortunately, there will be some prices starting to go up.”

Grocers across the country will feel the same pressure, which will be then passed along to consumers.

Snacks, fruit juices, vitamins and dairy products will see a jump in price according to Gary Sands, senior vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG).

Items like sunflower oil are expected to rise in price by 30 to 40 per cent.

Sands told CTV News, while it’s important that consumers understand prices will be increasing for many products in the weeks ahead, don’t blame the independent retail grocers.

“It will be a number of increases on a wide range of very popular products,” he said.

“If you’re an independent grocer in Canada and you want to negotiate a cost increase from one of the big multi-national companies like Kraft, Heinz, Pepsi, Coke or whomever it is, all I can say is I’ll keep the car running for you in the parking lot while you run in to have that discussion but I’m not going to turn the ignition off because it’s going to be a short meeting.”

Sands adds the volume of price increases from suppliers is about 60 per cent of what grocers saw this time last year, but that still won’t come as welcome news for Canadians.

“It’s just a myriad of factors that are driving up costs. A couple of years ago, I mentioned that some of the issues that had hit the industry were like the four horsemen of the apocalypse in the food industry,” he said.

“Now I think there’s about ten horsemen because we’ve got everything from the war in Ukraine, we’ve had wildfires, we’ve had catastrophic flooding, now we have disruptions to transportation in the Red Sea and we’ve had crop viruses. The list goes on and on.

“Those are the factors, unfortunately, that are driving up costs. If there was some magic wand that we could wave to make these increases go away, we would do so, but there’s not.”

The CFIG is working on a plan to stabilize the industry and hopefully drive down prices, but two of the biggest grocers in Canada are not yet on board.

“We’ve developed a grocery code of conduct. Right now, we’re still in negotiations with Loblaw and Walmart to encourage them to sign on to that, but a grocery code of conduct will provide more stability, fairness in the industry and we believe it will have a positive impact on cost,” said Sands.

“In other jurisdictions, such as Ireland, the U.K. and Australia, which have brought in codes of conduct in the grocery industry, prices came down. If we’re not successful in the weeks ahead in bringing Loblaw and Walmart in to supporting the code, which the rest of the entire industry in Canada is supporting, then we’re going to be turning unfortunately to governments to have to step in.”

Grocery inflation in Canada has been cooling in response to higher interest rates, but it is still elevated at 4.7 per cent in December.

With files from Rosa Saba from the Canadian Press

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