Canadians Boycott Major Supermarket Brands Over High Prices

Canada is looking for an overseas grocery store to enter its domestic market following years of high food costs, mostly targeted at Loblaw, the country’s leading food retailer. 

A Reddit user named Emily Johnson began a boycott of Loblaw in May 2023 because of the company’s record earnings and the fact that food costs were going up. More and more Canadians are struggling to buy food, and the boycott has ignited a national discourse about supermarket costs and the profitability of firms like Loblaw. As a result of the boycott, Loblaw and other large grocery stores throughout the nation are under increased political pressure and scrutiny for their business practices.

In an effort to boost competition and bring food costs down, Canada’s federal innovation minister has made many visits abroad to court an international supermarket to open a shop in Canada. Experts warn that incumbent Canadian grocers make it difficult for new entrants to the market to stand out and that a more nuanced solution may be necessary to the country’s affordability dilemma. Responding to the boycott, Loblaw emphasized its continued dedication to being the “retailer of choice” for Canadians and announced plans to create additional discount stores to increase access to inexpensive food.

Problems with the supply chain and a lack of available workers have contributed to higher food prices and overall living expenses for Canadians in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though food inflation in Canada peaked at 11.4%, comparing prices in the US and UK does reveal that certain commonplace goods are really more costly in Canada. Food import prices and the buying power of Canadians are both affected by the steep decline in the value of the country’s currency relative to the US dollar. A lot of people in Canada have felt the effects of rising interest rates, along with the impact of increasing rent and house costs.

There is a great deal of consolidation in Canada’s grocery business. Just three companies—Loblaw, Empire, and Metro—control almost 60% of the market. In comparison, the US grocery sector is more fragmented along regional lines, with Walmart serving as the dominant national chain. There is a lot of variety in the UK market; fourteen companies sell food worth more than £1 billion annually.

Many Canadians saw the Loblaw boycott as a way to express their frustration with the limited selection and inaction of the country’s supermarket giants regarding rising food prices.