February 25th, 2024

Food industry groups accuse Galen Weston of inaccurate claim over grocery code

By The Canadian Press on December 19, 2023.

Galen Weston, Chairman of Loblaw Cos. Ltd., waits to appear as a witness at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (AGRI) investigating food price inflation in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 8, 2023. A group of associations representing independent grocers, food suppliers and farmers is accusing Weston of making an inaccurate claim in his statements to the committee.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

A group of associations representing independent grocers, food suppliers and farmers is accusing Loblaw Cos. Ltd. chairman Galen Weston of making an inaccurate statement to the House of Commons agricultural committee studying food prices.

A letter sent Tuesday to MP Kody Blois, who chairs the agriculture committee, asks the committee to disregard part of Weston’s testimony when they draft their final report.

At a Dec. 7 committee meeting, Weston told MPs that Canada’s voluntary grocery code of conduct, which is near completion, will put too much power in the hands of large suppliers and could raise prices for Canadians.

As an example, Weston said Australia’s grocery code has a third-party mechanism that has supported cost increases in “essentially 100 per cent of cases,” and that if this “had happened in Canada since the beginning of last year, it would have resulted in $750 million in additional inflation pressure for consumers.”

However, Chris Leptos, the independent reviewer for the Australian code, says Weston’s comments are “not correct,” because the Australian code does not have a mechanism for price negotiations.

Loblaw did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2023.

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