loblaws profits

Here's how much grocery stores in Canada have profited amid food inflation

As Canada's major grocery store brands continue to be investigated by the Competition Bureau of Canada for potentially increasing prices at a higher rate than the general inflation consumers are suffering under, new research from one of the nation's top universities has provided insight into the companies' profits.

Researchers at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax examined the profits of Loblaw Companies, Metro and Empire (which owns Sobeys) this year compared to the previous five — and the results are bound to have shoppers fuming even more.

While food prices in Canada have grown the fastest in over 40 years due to record global inflation, the pockets of grocery store execs are likewise expanding.

The data shows that all three chains have been outperforming their five-year averages thus far this year when it comes to gross profits, with one brand standing out the most by far.

While Metro Inc. and Empire Co. Ltd have seen lower gross profits in 2022 than during their best-performing years in the last five (by $11 million and $37 million, respectively), Loblaw Companies Ltd. has made a whopping $180 million more than it did in its best year.

This may indeed suggest that these stores are taking advantage of inflation to increase prices even more. Still, those behind the report have said that they don't have a full-enough picture to establish that with certainty — only the profit figures are available, not the reason why they are what they are, nor how much of those profits are attributed to food only.

In August, food prices at supermarkets jumped 10.8 per cent compared to the same month in 2021, marking the most significant year-over-year spike since 1981.

September was even worse, with prices climbing 11.4 per cent from the year prior.

"Prices for food purchased from stores have been increasing at a faster rate than the all-items CPI for 10 consecutive months, since December 2021," noted StatCan in its Consumer Price Index that month.

Residents have adjusted their spending habits as a result, with the financial pressures hitting younger groups the hardest. The fact that these brands are noting such record profits is, to many, just salt in the wound.

Lead photo by

Franki Chamaki

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