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Sunday Musings: Have You Joined The Loblaw’s Boycott?

The Loblaw’s Boycott has now reached it’s half-way mark. With no sign of price reductions. The protesters say they’ve made some inroads in discussions with the company. But the company isn’t saying anything. Have you joined the Great Stay-Away Fray?

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State of the Uprising

I suppose, since it’s a boycott campaign, we should probably refer to the event as a ‘downrising’. Nevertheless… After two weeks of boycotting Loblaw’s and its subsidiaries, the protest group r/loblawsisoutofcontrol says it’s achieved significant results in Alberta, Ontario and Eastern Canada. And its membership is soaring – by more than 20,000 new adherents in the past two weeks.

Group founder Emily Johnson met with Loblaw’s CEO, Per Bank, on May 2, the day after the campaign officially began. She says discussions were ‘positive’. Loblaw’s has remained silent on the confab.

As of May 15, the company had apparently not implemented any significant price reductions or made any changes to its policies.

But it did announce, this past Thursday, that it will sign on to the new Canadian Grocer’s Code of Conduct. It had been haggling with its fellow supermarket giants and the government for weeks over the wording of the document. Alas, as I posted at that time, the Code is designed to protect members of the food supply chain from unfair action by other members – not to protect consumers.

Loblaw’s not hurting

If the supermarket chain’s first-quarter earnings report is any indication, Loblaw’s has not been putting itself out at all to help consumers struggling to feed their families. The company increased its dividend by 15 per cent on May 1, after reporting an almost 10 per cent rise in profits.

At the same time, the boycott group has pointed out a whole slew of ways supermarkets could support consumers. The group’s call for an immediate 15 to 20 percent cut in food prices has – not surprisingly – fallen on deaf ears.

But protestors still have hopes for their demands for an end to preferential ‘members only’ deals, greater transparency on ‘shrinkflation issues, no further increases to shareholder dividends, and no further retail price increases at least until the end of this year.

My take

Grocery retailers enjoy a defacto monopoly over their market in Canada. The so-called Big 5 store chains control the vast majority of our supermarkets, and exert massive leverage over their suppliers. It’s time they stood up and took steps to make sure every Canadian can afford decent food – and still be able to pay their bills. The supermarket chains report consistent bumper profits.

In any just society, under the conditions we currently face, the grocery retailers should be demon-strating the kind of leadership we have a right to expect from them. After all, they have made their billions on our backs. It’s time they sacrificed at least some of their profit to the greater good. With ownership comes responsibility.

My questions to you…

Are you able to afford enough decent food to eat?

Are you angry that food prices remain high, in spite of significant decreases in general inflation?

Do you hold the food retailers responsible for high food prices?

What do you think should be done to lower food prices? By whom?

And… Have you joined the Loblaw’s Boycott?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.