No evidence of grocery profiteering, researcher tells food committee

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OTTAWA — Dalhousie University food researcher Sylvain Charlebois says there is no substantiated evidence of profiteering within the food retail industry in Canada.

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He says the government should be more concerned with price co-ordination within the industry, noting a recent example where Loblaw changed a discount program, citing alignment with its competitors.

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Charlebois, who is the director of Dalhousie’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, made the comments before a House of Commons committee studying food prices.

Canada’s largest grocers have been under intense scrutiny from the committee and from the federal ministers of industry and food as grocery prices continue to rise at a faster pace than overall inflation.

Headline inflation accelerated to 3.4 per cent in December, while grocery prices rose 4.7 per cent that month.

Charlebois says the committee should also prioritize the grocery code of conduct, which is nearly complete but at a standstill with Loblaw and Walmart saying they’re not ready to sign on.

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