Ottawa to Summon CEOs of Multinational Food Producers Over High Food Prices

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne says multinational food producers must meet with Ottawa to discuss high food prices.
Ottawa to Summon CEOs of Multinational Food Producers Over High Food Prices
Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, speaks at a news conference in Vancouver on Sept. 7, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)
Noé Chartier

After calling CEOs of major grocers for a “historic” meeting in Ottawa to deal with food inflation, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne now has his sights set on multinational food producers.

The minister said on Sept. 18 that the CEOs of international giants like Unilever, Nestlé, and PepsiCo will need to sit down with the federal government to discuss reducing food prices.

“We’re going to have the same tone we had with the giant grocers in Canada,” said Mr. Champagne, who plans to invite between five to 10 major producers.

The Liberal government has threatened major Canadian grocers with sanctions if they don’t stabilize prices, saying no option is off the table including taxation.

Mr. Champagne adopted a similar posture with the CEOs of multinationals, implying he could organize with the governments of other countries to apply pressure.

“If the Canadian CEOs don’t want to listen, I‘ll go to the board and I’ll go to talk to our counterparts around the world,” he said.

Mr. Champagne said the Sept. 18 discussions with the major grocers, including the heads of Loblaws, Metro, Empire, Costco, and Walmart, were “difficult,” but he was “pleased with the constructive tone of the discussions.”

“Bottom line is that they have agreed to support the Government of Canada in our efforts to stabilize food prices.”

There was no specific measure announced following the meeting. The Retail Council of Canada (RCC), which communicates on behalf of the grocers on this issue, told The Epoch Times in a statement that its members would take the necessary time to review the discussions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously said he wants to see results before Thanksgiving in October.

RCC spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen called the discussions with Ottawa “constructive and informative” and that there was also “alignment that any discussions on food prices must include all members of the complex supply chain.”

She says that 70 to 80 percent of grocery checkout prices rise before the food gets to grocers. “To that end, Minister Champagne has now committed to calling in these groups for discussions with respect to their role in food pricing,” Ms. Wasylyshen said in an email statement.

Mr. Champagne’s office confirmed that other stakeholders in the supply chain will be called to Ottawa, but details are as yet unavailable on the date and who will be asked to attend.

Statistics Canada reported on Sept. 19 that grocery price growth has slowed. “Although year-over-year price growth for groceries slowed in August, price levels remained elevated,” wrote the agency in its latest Consumer Price Index report. Prices rose 6.9 percent year-over-year in August, compared to 8.5 percent in July.