The federal NDP is calling for a congressional investigation into soaring food prices to determine whether large grocery chains are over-profiting.
While Canada’s inflation problem appears to be easing, the cost of groceries has increased 10.8% over the past year, according to Statistics Canada.
NDP agriculture critic Alistair MacGregor said he plans to bring up the petition before the agriculture committee on Wednesday recommends MPs investigate to find out if grocers are taking advantage. inflation or not.
“I think Canadians deserve answers and … in this moment when they see the price of everything going up, unfortunately they have a Liberal government that hasn’t cared much for the role that greed plays. businesses cause in the increasing prices they are seeing”. MacGregor told CBC.
Canada’s three major grocery store chains all posted increased profits in their most recent financial reports. Loblaw reported quarterly profit of $387 million – up $12 million, or 3.2% year over year.
Metro posted a quarterly profit of $275 million, up from $252.4 million in the same quarter a year ago. And Empire reported a profit of $178.5 million in the latest quarter, up from $6.6 million in the same quarter a year ago.
Loblaw’s brands include Shoppers Drug Mart, Superstore and No Frills. Metro owns Food Basics, Jean Coutu, Metro and other brands, while Empire owns Sobeys and FreshCo.
“I know Canadians are trying their best to balance the budget, but they also deserve for MPs to look at this problem and find a solution,” he said.
University of Toronto professor Partha Mohanram, an expert in financial statement analysis, says there is little evidence that big grocers are using inflation as an excuse to boost their profits.
“It’s hard to make accusations that these guys are really profiting, but without a doubt, they’re doing pretty well,” he said.
One recent report from Dalhousie University looked at the profits of major Canadian grocers over the past five years and found no evidence of profiteering due to the recent spike in inflation.
“If ‘greedy inflation’ exists, available data suggests that grocery stores are not responsible,” the report reads.
“If people accuse grocers of snooping and profiteering, we don’t know where they get their data,” said Sylvain Charlebois, one of the report’s authors.
But Charlebois, and director of the Agri-Food Analysis Laboratory at Dalhousie University, says a study on rising food costs is still worth doing, as long as it doesn’t just focus on benefits. grocery store profits.
The Retail Council of Canada, which represents major grocers, said it did not oppose a committee study but – like Charlebois – said it should consider the impact of external pressures – such as: like the war in Ukraine – for food prices.
Council spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen said: “It would be beneficial for any observer to consider the issue of rising food prices in the first place, as there are so many global events and pressures at play.” .
A spokesman for Conservative MP John Barlow, vice chair of the agriculture committee, told CBC News that Barlow would not comment on the move until he had seen the text.
The CBC reached out to Liberal members of the agriculture committee to ask if they would support the study but had not received a response at the time of publication.