Why is it that the grocery magnates of Canada can go to Ottawa and blatantly lie to the members of parliament? Don’t any of our MPs ever go to a grocery store? Maybe I have an advantage in that I was trained as a young man as a grocery store manager. There is no work in a store that I cannot do, other than on-site butchering. I actually like shopping for our food.
But in the last year, it has become a horrific experience. It is the combination of two different shopping experiences each week. There is the wife’s health which has required that I do even more of the shopping and food preparation for the two of us. The second factor is arranging for food to be delivered to a shut-in another city. That involves delivery.
Delivery has been a new experience for our major grocery chains. Loblaw stores are still coming to grips with customers coming to pick up their order. They let Instacart from San Francisco do the deliveries The Sobey’s people from Nova Scotia have established Voilá delivery service. It is an excellent service, if you can afford the groceries. I have finally found that the best delivery value is provided by Walmart through Instacart. In repeated tests, I found that I can save over 20-dollars a week by using Walmart and Instacart instead of Sobeys. Despite a poorly designed ordering system, the Walmart-Instacart service is worth the small frustrations. And that includes the unusual extra step necessary to eliminate the tip for the driver. I cannot imagine why Instacart does not pay their drivers adequately for their work.
But it was seeing Galen Weston sitting at the microphone in Ottawa lying to the MPs that really ticks me off. Let me give you an example: Where I live in Barrie, Ontario, I am equal distance from three Loblaw-owned stores. They are a Zehrs, a really big Loblaws and a No Frills. I expect all three of those stores are supplied from the same monster Loblaw warehouse down near Brampton, Ontario. I like orange juice and I buy the Del Monte brand that comes in 2.5 litre jugs. Pre-price gouging by Loblaw, I could get that juice at $4.49 at both No Frills and Zehrs. The price at Zehrs today is $7.25 and at No Frills is $5.24 and yet it all has the same production lot as the as the original product sold at $4.49.
I can well appreciate the overhead differences between a No Frills and a Zehrs as well as the wide mix of mark-ups between product categories. For Galen Weston to be so facile as to suggest to a question from Jagmeet Singh that Loblaw works to a four per cent profit margin on groceries is oversimplifying the situation. The three grocery chain presidents are earning millions for themselves on the struggles of Canadians trying to cope with inflation.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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