Canada’s competition watchdog is launching a study into the grocery industry to see if the highly concentrated sector is contributing to rising food costs.
“With inflation rising, Canadian consumers have seen their purchasing power diminish,” Competition Bureau said in a news release on Monday.
“This is especially true when buying groceries. In fact, grocery prices in Canada are growing at their fastest rate in 40 years.”
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Grocery prices in September rose at the fastest pace since 1981, with prices up 11.4% from a year ago. This compares to the overall inflation rate of 6.9%.
Although the overall inflation rate has begun to decline from its peak of 8.1% in June, food prices have not only fared well above that but have continued to rise.
The Competition Bureau said on Monday its study will look at how higher grocery prices are associated with changing competitive dynamics in the sector.
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It is expected to explore how the government can act to combat the increase in grocery prices with greater competition in the industry.
It notes that the grocery sector is concentrated, with many Canadians buying from one of three companies: Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys’ Empire Co. Ltd.
The level of competition varies across the country.
The Competition Bureau will provide a series of recommendations to the government in its final report, which it is expected to publish in June.
Earlier this month, the House Agriculture Committee voted to investigate food prices.
The House of Commons also voted unanimously in favor of an NDP motion calling on the government to tackle “corporate greed” in the grocery sector.
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