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Toronto chip lovers tormented by shortage of Lay's and Doritos at grocery stores

Been having a tough time finding Sun Chips at the grocery store lately? How about BBQ Ruffles or Lays? How about Doritos, for that matter? Tostitos? Fritos? Cheetos?

You're not alone, my friend, and I'm happy to report that none of the above corn or potato chip products have been discontinued. You might just not be able to buy them at your regular supermarket right now.

Frito-Lay Canada is reportedly withholding product shipments to all stores owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd. due to "a dispute over price hikes" that experts are calling "an extreme example of how inflation is impacting the food industry."

This dispute between one of the country's largest snack manufacturers and the largest grocery retailer in Canada has effectively resulted in a depressing onslaught of barren chip aisles at Loblaws, No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart, T&T, Zehrs and other Loblaw-owned locations.

Yes, you can still buy President's Choice or No Name chips at Shoppers while picking up your allergy medicine, but good luck finding Miss Vickie's, Smartfood or Hickory Sticks.

At least until Frito-Lay and Loblaw can work out their differences.

The Financial Post reported on Friday, based on a report from the French-language La Presse, that Frito-Lay (owned by PepsiCo) had stopped filling orders to Loblaw stores earlier this month after the latter entity refused to accept an increase in prices.

Frito-Lay spokesperson Sheri Morgan reportedly told one customer that the disruption in shipments would be temporary.

"Our business has faced unprecedented pressures from rising costs of items including ingredients, packaging and transportation," she said in an email, per The Canadian Press in a story published Monday.

"To help offset these pressures on our Canadian operations ... we have made adjustments to our prices that are consistent across the marketplace."

Loblaw, for its part, said in a statement that the business remains focused on "minimizing retail price increases" — something that likely won't be easy to do amid sky-high inflation rates.

"When suppliers request higher costs, we do a detailed review to ensure they are appropriate," said Loblaw spokesperson Catherine Thomas on the matter. "This can lead to difficult conversations and, in extreme cases, suppliers don't ship us products."

In addition to sharing photos of empty chip shelves, snack fans on Twitter are now starting to take sides in this bizarre grocery feud.

"Let customers decide if they wish to pay more for Frito-Lay products," tweeted one at Loblaw. "Not stocking their product is not the solution."

"Great job Loblaw," tweeted another. Time to buy more in-house brands. You lose this time Frito-Lay."

"Very gutsy move by Frito Lay Canada. Brand loyalty (especially for chips) is not what it used to be. There is more for Frito to lose here than there's for Loblaw," wrote another commenter still.

Some aren't siding with either corporation, noting that both have been pulling in heavy profits amid the pandemic and shouldn't be squabbling over who absorbs the cost of wholesale food prices.

Fortunately for chip brand loyalists who are not also grocery store brand loyalists, there are plenty of other places around the city still selling Doritos, Ruffles, Smartfood and the like.

Loblaw, which posted net earnings of $1.19 billion CAD in 2021, seems to be the only retailer at present kicking up backlash to the increased wholesale cost of Frito Lay products.

Lead photo by

Mike Mozart

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