That young guy who runs Canada’s Weston Empire appears to be getting ahead of the game. He can enthusiastically raise prices in Loblaws, Zehrs, No Frills, Provigo, Superstore or Shoppers Drug Mart and the other chains will follow. The only question is why is he raising them more than necessary? It is when he contributes to the rising cost of living in Canada that the word ‘profit’ becomes ‘profiteering.’
Does the Weston heir think that nobody will notice? There are many people across Canada who know how to compute what something should cost. Grocers might not put their thumb on the meat scale very often but it is easy enough to compute what it costs to bring a product to the grocery shelf.
One of the reasons the wife likes to take me along grocery shopping is that I know meats and can quickly compute if so-called bargains are really a bargain. It comes from my early training in supermarket store management. Yes, I was trained by two different grocery chains in my youth.
Maybe things were a bit simpler then but the basics have changed very little. The highest mark-up in the stores is in the produce department. Controlling waste and keeping product fresh and inviting has changed little over the years.
Meat is a different story. While still a major profit contributor, fewer and fewer butchers are actually on the premise. Precut, prepackaged meats are most often from central cutting and packaging operations. Stores with real butchers are rare but always interesting, if they have time to chat. In store bakeries were rare when I was in the business as are the occasional fish counters today.
But the heavy lifting in the large grocery stores of today is still left to the grocery department with its stocks of canned and bottled goods, paper products and dairy and frozen foods.
What worries me today is the government involvement in developing a code of conduct between the grocers and their suppliers. I think we need to keep the tensions. We need the tensions to eliminate the collusion between suppliers and retailers. We certainly have to have some strong competition to keep the giants of the industry from just getting richer.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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