grocery code of conduct

Loblaws says measures to hold grocery tycoons accountable will make prices worse

As Canadians look forward to a new measure that aims to keep profiteering supermarket magnates in check, the primary target of cash-strapped consumer's ire over grocery inflation is saying that such a step will have the complete opposite effect, somehow.

Loblaws executives are now claiming that the Grocery Code of Conduct first floated by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in early 2023 — a "mandatory and enforceable" set of rules to improve transparency and fair dealings in the industry — will actually make things worse for consumers, not better.

According to a letter recently obtained by the Canadian Press, the company's leaders predict the code could raise food prices by $1 billion, as some of the proposed regulations "add unnecessary burdens" that could impact product availability, discounting, and the overall relationship between grocers and their suppliers.

But, other stakeholders strongly disagree, with those behind the code — including members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers — telling CP on Tuesday that there is zero evidence that the directives would lead to price hikes or otherwise "negatively impact retailers' ability to meet consumer needs."

In fact, suppliers say that without better oversight, current trends in the business will continue to lead to less choice and higher prices facing shoppers, as Loblaws and co. are able to charge them sky-high fees and enforce penalties that severely limit and control who can get their products in stores.

While Loblaws and Walmart have opposed the code in its current draft form, Metro and Sobeys owner Empire Co. Ltd. are willing to commit. If and when it comes to fruition, it will echo statutes that already exist countries such as Australia and the U.K.

Lead photo by

Loblaw Companies Ltd.

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