Grocery Store CEOs To Testify In Ottawa About Food Inflation

The leaders of Canada's largest grocery store chains have been summoned to Ottawa to testify in Parliament about food inflation and rising consumer prices.

A House of Commons committee studying food inflation called on the chief executives and presidents of Loblaw Companies (L), Metro (MRU) and Empire Company (EMP.A), which operates Sobeys and Safeway, to appear at an upcoming hearing.

The committee began its study last autumn, originally setting six meeting dates to discuss food prices. Members of Parliament have now decided to add more meetings.

A proposal to hear from the grocery store heads about food inflation received unanimous support from Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Bloc Québécois members of the committee.

Executives from all three companies, as well as Save-On-Foods, have testified at past committee meetings but not their CEOs or presidents.

Prices for food purchased from grocery stores rose nearly 10% in 2022, the fastest pace since 1981. Prices increased in nearly every food category, according to Statistics Canada.

Last year, the Liberal government ordered the Competition Bureau to study food prices at grocery store chains.

The Competition Bureau said multiple factors have impacted food prices, including extreme weather, higher input costs, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and supply-chain disruptions.

A formal study on food prices is expected to be released by the Competition Bureau later this year.

Share prices of grocery store companies have been on the rise over the last year along with food prices. The stock of Loblaw Companies has risen 17% over the last 12 months to reach $117.39 per share.