The leaders of three of Canada’s largest grocery chains were in the hotseat Wednesday explaining to parliamentarians on the Standing Committee for Agriculture and Agri-Food the reasoning behind the wallet pains Canadians feel when they shop.
Some tense moments came when NDP leader Jagmeet Singh grilled Loblaw CEO Galen Weston, whose company has experienced record profits, asking him how much profit is too much profit.
“We’re a big company and the numbers are very large,” explained Weston. “But it still translates right down to the bottom line of $1 for every $25 of groceries.”
Weston added the profit increases for his company were 25 times lower than the increases in cost for 2022.
Empire Foods’ Michael Medline laid out some of the raw numbers from the chains he owns like FreshCo, Safeway and Sobeys face.
“Butter up 59%, corn oil up 140%, wheat up 109%, flour up 63%, turkey frozen 78% up, then you go to packaging tin up 53%, pulp up 45%, I’m not going to keep going on…freight, fuel, labour every imported cost has gone up.”
Medline also defended against the accusations of profiteering at his company.
“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.”
Included in his remarks was the implementation of a strong Grocery Supply Code of Practice to help address some of the issues.
It was also noted that while Empire Foods, Loblaw and Metro make up a considerable amount of the market, there are other big players who haven’t yet appeared including Walmart, Costco even Amazon.
A motion was put forth near the end of the meeting by Liberal committee member Ryan Turnbull, to have the heads of both Walmart and Costco appear before the committee at a later date.