Food too expensive, the Minister of Industry: “More competition to bring prices down”

TORONTO – Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne insists: only greater competition will lower food prices. He reiterated it during an interview with “The West Block” on Global News, where he told host Mercedes Stephenson that competition remains the best way to keep the cost of food in check. 

Champagne confirmed that he had “wooed”, in recent months, foreign grocery store chains, inviting them to enter the Canadian market.

The strategy is simple: convince some large chains to open in the country, thus forcing the chains already present to “deal with” new competitors. And when a new supermarket arrives on the square, the “old” ones have only one way to avoid losing customers attracted by the novelty: lower prices.

The minister said he will have officials announce once the agreements are concluded, but it is not an easy operation, he admitted.

An American chain, for example, despite being interested, encountered “significant obstacles” at the entrance to the northern market. “The biggest obstacle they had to face – revealed Champagne – concerned the rental contracts. They couldn’t find 400 or 500 rentals or properties to rent in the country” Champagne said. “So is it easy? No. Is it worth trying? Definitely”.

As part of the 2023 fall economic statement, the government introduced reforms to the Competition Act with a focus on grocers. Key among them, giving the Competition Bureau subpoena power to collect information from companies like grocers as part of market studies and making it illegal for corporate grocers to prevent independent stores from setting up shop in the same commercial building.

This and other reforms, according to the minister, should push foreign chain stores, especially American ones, to “dare to take another look at Canada” and perhaps try to invest to enter a new market. “We are working hard on it” the minister assured.

Photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash