galen weston loblaws

Galen Weston Jr. blasted for tone-deaf email about No Name price freeze at Loblaws

Canadian supervillain Galen Weston Jr., CEO of Loblaw Companies Ltd. and fourth-generation heir to the Weston family throne, has once again caught the ire of non-billionaires across the country — this time with a self-congratulatory email announcing a temporary price freeze on No Name brand products at Loblaws and other retailers he owns.

"Galen announces a PRICE FREEZE for inflation!" reads a mass email that hit the inboxes of PC Optimum members on Monday morning. 

The promotional message reveals that Canada's largest food retailer is "locking" prices on one of its house brands (the famously bare bones No Name brand) until January 31, 2023, in an effort to help offset the impacts of record-high inflation on grocery bills.

"Hi Everyone," reads the letter-style email, which is signed simply by "Galen" and featured one of the bespectacled oligarch's signature sweater portraits.

"Anyone who regularly visits the grocery store knows that over the past year the cost of food has increased rapidly. In fact, the price of an average basket of groceries is up about 10% this year… and almost 15% over two years. For some items — like butter, apples, soups, and chips — prices are up much more than that," says Weston, as though he's ever had to personally purchase anything from a retail store in his entire life.

"Maddeningly, much of this is out of our control."

Um... what?

According to Weston, grocery bills are skyrocketing in Canada because of supply chain costs — as opposed to the type of price fixing and collusion he and his ilk have been busted for in the past.

"Your grocery bill is higher today because the suppliers who make the products we sell are raising their prices for us," reads the letter, which makes no mention of the fact that Weston's family also owns one of Canada's largest food processors and distributors.

"And, while we've challenged (and will continue to challenge) any unfair price increases, the truth is most are reasonable. Suppliers' basic costs are way higher than they've been in decades — no different than costs like the gas in your car, or your rent or mortgage."

Coincidentally (or not), Loblaw Companies Ltd. and other major grocery chains in Canada have been famously posting massive profit margin increases over the past few years.

Profits were up nearly 40 per cent for Loblaw alone during the first quarter of 2022, though the conglomerate credited medications purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart, which it purchased in 2013, for many of its gains. 

Whatever the case, it's a bad look when our country's biggest corporate grocery chains are raking in billions more than usual while food bank usage spikes to historic highs.

"We know the cost of everything has gone up and now slowly we're seeing some of that go down, but the price of food has not come down; in fact, it continues to rise," said federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh last month when calling for a government probe into the rising costs of food at grocery stores.

"The clear trend is CEO profits are up; grocery store profits are up but workers aren't getting paid more, producers aren't getting paid more, and families are certainly having a hard time affording it."

"Bakery items — up 15.4% Fresh fruit — up 13.2% Pasta — up 32.4% Corporate grocery chain profits? $3.5 billion, while nearly a quarter of Canadians report going hungry," he later tweeted. "Corporate greed is cruel and it must be confronted with a windfalls tax forcing CEOs to pay what they owe."

Amid all of this chatter about artificially inflated food costs, and following years of controversy related to price fixing, screwing over minimum-wage workers and accusations of pandemic profiteering, Weston's little note about a three-month price freeze on his company's least expensive products was not well-recieved.

It was, in fact, quite poorly recieved, to the point that both "Galen Weston" and "Loblaws" were trending nationally on Twitter Monday morning.

"Got my 'email' from Galen Weston today whining about being unfairly criticized for price gouging. It's not his fault! Suppliers keep raising costs. He HAS to double prices to keep his boats, houses, car, etc! He's SUFFERING!" wrote one consumer of the billionaire's missive.

The email from Weston, in which he brags about how "on average, no name prices are already 25% cheaper than comparable name brands," has inspired a new rush of hate against the already-maligned George Weston Ltd. and Loblaw Companies Ltd. chairman.

"Galen Weston is the most evil man in Canada," wrote one Twitter user on Monday morning.

"At least six months of inflation we haven't seen in years and Galen Weston offers that he'll continue to make the same amount from one of this many companies for the next two months as a blessing to the poors and we're supposed to be happy about it," commented another.

Some online are speculating that this three-month price freeze on already-inflated goods is supposed to be some sort of public relations stunt.

"Galen Weston announcing a price freeze is, at best, laughable. Surely you can see through this?" wrote one Canadian. "Corporate overlord 'does you a favour' still making record profits... Corporations do not CARE about your well being."

Most critics seem to agree that keeping prices on No Name brand products, of which more than 1,500 exist, won't do much to help Canadians who are struggling with their grocery bills.

All can agree that it's weird for one of Canada's wealthiest people, a man worth billions of dollars, to send out a message containing phrases such as "...when you're worried about your family's budget and uncertain about how much you'll need each month to pay for food" and "...make a real difference in both your grocery bills and your peace of mind."

"We don't know when this will end, but we do know that right now every cent matters," reads the email from "Galen" (who now sometimes goes by Galen G. Weston in the wake of his retail magnate father's death).

"In the weeks ahead, we'll continue to lower prices here, in our flyer, and across our stores, all designed to provide immediate relief from escalating food costs."

So long as keeping the proles fed doesn't interfere with his roster of luxury vacation homes.

Lead photo by

PC Optimum

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