Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Watchdog agency launches study as Victoria’s grocery prices climb amid record high inflation

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With food prices on the rise and highest they’ve been in years, the Competition Bureau of Canada is undertaking a market study into grocery store competition.

Inflation rates recently decreased by a decimal of a percentage in BC, but remain at its highest in history.

The spike has gotten to the point where the Competition Bureau has decided to review how governments could combat grocery price increases through more competition in the sector.

According to the bureau, Canadian consumers have been seeing their purchasing power decline in recent months. 

Grocery prices in Canada are growing at the fastest rate seen in 40 years. 

The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency with the purpose of ensuring healthy competition—this is an important aspect of the economy because it is intended to drive prices lower and create space for innovation while fuelling growth. 

The agency protects and promotes competition for the benefit of Canadian consumers and businesses. Their most recent study is meant to find ways that governments can increase competition between grocery retailers.

“We might not have enough information to draw firm conclusions. But we do expect to recommend measures that governments can take to help to improve competition. That is what we do best.,” said the Competition Bureau in a media release.

It will be a long term study that goes from October 2022 until June 2023, at which point a report will be published with their findings.

The study will focus on these three questions:

  • To what extent are higher grocery prices a result of changing competitive dynamics?
  • What can we learn from steps that other countries have taken to increase competition in the sector?
  • How can governments lower barriers to entry and expansion to stimulate competition for consumers?

Canadians who want to provide input to the Competition Bureau on the matter can share their thoughts online. The deadline to do so is December 16th.

In early October, Loblaw Companies Ltd. announced that they would be putting a temporary freeze on the prices of their ‘no name’ branded goods. 

Related:

Victorians will benefit from Loblaw’s price freeze of ‘no name’ goods in spite of inflation

Following this announcement the company came under scrutiny because they could have frozen all their prices instead of just the prices of one of their brands. 

The Competition Bureau is the same agency that found Loblaw Companies Ltd., among others, guilty of price-fixing over the course of 14 years.

To remedy their price-fixing of bread, they gave back to consumers in the form of a $25 gift card.

mm
Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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