Major Canadian grocer Empire, the parent company of Sobeys, confirmed it will expand price freezes on several products between November 2023 and January 2024.
A month ago, major grocers in Canada did not confirm whether they were committed to special promotions to stabilize grocery prices despite promises by the federal government to alleviate inflation and the rising cost of living for Canadians.
Now, Empire confirmed it will be expanding its price-freezing practice to 20,000 of its packaged products in the coming months, the company said in an emailed statement to CTV News Toronto Tuesday.
“This is a meaningful step-up from prior years and has resulted in cancelling price increases on approximately 1,700 additional products initially planned to occur during this timeframe,” a spokesperson for Empire said.
Empire adds it typically implements price freezes on 90 per cent of all packaged products from November to January annually, with exceptions in certain scenarios.
Price increase cancellations will remain in place regardless of any internal or external conditions that might cause prices to go up, according to the company.
The federal government gave an ultimatum to major grocers in September, saying they should present plans to stabilize grocery prices by Thanksgiving or face potential tax measures as a consequence.
The move came in response to concerns that Canadian families were struggling to put food on the table as grocery prices continued to climb rapidly. Grocery prices in August were 6.9 per cent higher than they were a year ago, according to StatCan.
“We also have significant and meaningful plans in development to continue to help stabilize food prices past February” the company said.
Empire’s announcement comes after Statistics Canada reported a 3.1 per cent slowdown in the annual inflation rate in October, down from 3.8 per cent in September.
Statistics Canada said the largest contributors to inflation continued to be mortgage interest costs, food purchased from stores and rent.
While grocery prices rose faster than overall inflation, Statistics Canada said the pace continued to slow. Grocery prices were up 5.4 per cent year-over-year in October compared with 5.8 per cent higher in September.
With files from The Canadian Press