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CEOs of Multinational Food Producers to be Summoned by Ottawa to Address Soaring Food Prices

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne has called on multinational food producers to meet with Ottawa to address high food prices.

Following a “historic” meeting in Ottawa with CEOs of major grocers to address food inflation, Minister Champagne now focuses on multinational food producers.

On September 18, the minister stated that CEOs from international giants such as Unilever, Nestlé, and PepsiCo will be required to have discussions with the federal government regarding the reduction of food prices.

“We will adopt the same tone we used with the major grocers in Canada,” said Mr. Champagne, who plans to invite between five and ten major producers.

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The Liberal government has warned major Canadian grocers of potential sanctions if they fail to stabilize prices, including the possibility of taxation.

Mr. Champagne has taken a similar approach with the CEOs of multinational companies, suggesting that he may collaborate with governments from other countries to exert pressure.

“If Canadian CEOs refuse to listen, I will engage with their boards and consult our counterparts worldwide,” he stated.

The minister described the September 18 discussions with major grocers, including the leaders of Loblaws, Metro, Empire, Costco, and Walmart, as “challenging,” but expressed satisfaction with the constructive nature of the talks.

“The bottom line is that they have agreed to support the Government of Canada in our efforts to stabilize food prices,” he added.

No specific measures were announced following the meeting. The Retail Council of Canada (RCC), which speaks on behalf of the grocers in this matter, stated that its members would take the necessary time to review the discussions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously stated his expectation of seeing results before Thanksgiving in October.

RCC spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen described the discussions with Ottawa as “constructive and informative,” emphasizing the importance of involving all members of the complex supply chain in discussions about food prices.

She noted that 70 to 80 percent of grocery checkout prices increase before reaching the grocers. “Therefore, Minister Champagne has committed to inviting these groups to discuss their role in food pricing,” stated Ms. Wasylyshen in an email.

Mr. Champagne’s office confirmed that other stakeholders in the supply chain will be summoned to Ottawa, but specifics regarding the date and attendees are currently unavailable.

On September 19, Statistics Canada reported that the growth rate of grocery prices has slowed. The agency stated in its latest Consumer Price Index report, “Although year-over-year price growth for groceries slowed in August, price levels remained elevated.” Prices rose by 6.9 percent year-over-year in August, compared to 8.5 percent in July.

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