Canada's Most Respected Grocery Stores In 2023 Were Revealed & One Chain Is A New Favourite

Canadians are loving the American chains.

A woman shopping for groceries at Walmart.
Senior Editor

A woman shopping for groceries at Walmart.

Canadian shoppers have a lot of feelings about grocery stores in this country, whether they’re trading Costco hacks or ripping Loblaw, but there’s one brand that they seem to have really fallen in love with over the last year.

A new survey reveals that Canadians are putting their faith in discount supermarkets like Costco, Walmart and Food Basics in 2023, while other companies — especially those under the Loblaw umbrella — appear to be past their best-before dates.

The new ranking comes from Canada's Most Respected, a team-up between the pollsters at Maru Public Opinion and Dart Insight and Communications. The pollsters survey thousands of adult Canadians each year to get their thoughts on various brands, including grocery stores, in order to figure out which labels people put their faith in.

In this case, they collected info from 2,932 randomly-chosen Canadians to come up with their scorecard and — spoiler alert — there was one clear winner in 2023.

The most trusted grocery or food retailer in Canada this year is Costco, according to the survey. This is the second time Costco has topped the list, beating out over a dozen competitors by 10 percentage points under the criteria.

“The significant changes in this year’s rankings compared to 2021 demonstrate that corporate respect is an attribute consumers harbour, particularly when they have a choice as to where to pledge their pocketbooks in tough economic times," Jeff Munn, executive director of the CMR award program, said in a news release.

The scorecard shows that several brands were in a dead heat for second place, with Metro, Walmart, Food Basics and No Frills all separated by less than a percentage point. Metro ended up claiming the No. 2 spot, moving up one position over the last survey in 2021.

Many entries on the list remained fairly stable, although there was one new favourite that emerged: Walmart. The U.S.-owned chain jumped up 11 spots in the rankings to No. 3 overall, according to the survey data. That's a huge leap, and it seems to have come at the same time that several Canadian-owned chains fell down the rankings.

Food Basics also got some love, climbing five spots on the list.

So which grocery stores lost respect in Canadians' eyes?

Well, several of them were involved in a bread price-fixing scandal a few years ago, and they're owned by a company that reported record profits while raising prices beyond inflation during the pandemic.

You guessed it: Loblaws and several of its other brands were among the biggest losers on the list. Loblaws itself fell five spots to No. 13 out of 14 entries on the list, while Real Canadian Superstore tumbled down three spots to No. 7.

However, the biggest loser in the rankings this year was Your Independent Grocer, which dropped eight spots from No. 2 to No. 10. This is also where we should point out that "Independent" is just a name, because this chain has been owned by Loblaw for decades.

Still, it wasn't all bad news for stores under the Loblaw banner, because their discount label No Frills moved up a spot to make No. 5 on this year's list.

Here's the full list of the most respected grocery stores in Canada in 2023:

  1. Costco
  2. Metro
  3. Walmart
  4. Food Basics
  5. No Frills
  6. IGA
  7. Real Canadian Superstore
  8. FreshCo
  9. Sobeys
  10. Your Independent Grocer
  11. Save-on Foods
  12. Safeway
  13. Loblaws
  14. Foodland
That's a long list and at first glance, it looks like there are more than a dozen different grocery stores to choose from. But are there really? Because if you dig into who owns what, you'll find that the Canadian grocery store scene isn't as competitive as it looks. The Competition Bureau of Canada even said so in a report released earlier this summer.
In fact, most of the chains on this CMR list are actually owned by three huge Canadian grocers, and it's pretty hard not to give them your money each week.

What are the three major grocery chains in Canada?

Canada's big three grocery giants are Loblaw Companies Ltd., Sobeys Inc. and Metro Inc. They own the vast majority of grocery stores in Canada, including several different brands that only look like competitors while actually existing under the same parent company.

According to the Competition Bureau of Canada, these three giants dominate Canada's grocery scene, and they are only getting stronger and pushing out the smaller guys. The Competition Bureau reported earlier this summer that nearly half of all Canadians shop at a Loblaw-owned store, even though the survey above shows that shoppers aren't thrilled about that fact.

So who owns your local grocery store? If it's not an American chain like Costco or Walmart, chances are it's one of these three Canadian grocery behemoths.

What grocery stores are owned by Loblaws?

The following stores are owned by or affiliated with Loblaw Companies Ltd.

  • Loblaws
  • No Frills
  • Real Canadian Superstore
  • Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix
  • Provigo
  • Maxi
  • Zehrs
  • Fortinos
  • Valu-mart
  • Dominion
  • Atlantic Superstore
  • Your Independent Grocer
  • T&T

What grocery stores are owned by Sobeys?

Sobeys Inc. has the second-largest portfolio of grocery stores in Canada. They include:

  • Sobeys
  • Safeway
  • IGA
  • FreshCo
  • Foodland
  • Longo's
  • Farm Boy
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Les Marchés Tradition
  • Marché BoniChoix
  • Lawtons Drugs

What grocery stores are owned by Metro?

Metro Inc. controls the third-largest slice of the grocery store market in Canada, with many of its brands operating in and around Quebec. Metro's stores include:

  • Metro
  • Super C
  • Food Basics
  • Adonis
  • Marché Richelieu
  • Marché Ami
  • Jean Coutu
  • Brunet

These three chains own at least 1,000 stores each, according to the Competition Bureau of Canada.

"Even if you don't shop at a store called Loblaws, Sobeys, or Metro, you may be shopping at another store that they own or are affiliated with," the bureau said in its recent report on grocery competition.

These three have also gobbled up some of the older brands that might've been independent when you were a kid, such as A&P, IGA, Safeway and Provigo.

The report adds that Costco and Walmart are the next-largest chains after these big three, and they're actually bringing some much-needed competition to Canada, which might explain why people enjoy them so much.

Still, these two have only about 500 stores between them according to the report, meaning they're not always an option in some parts of the country.

So the next time you're trying to decide where to shop and who to trust with your weekly grocery run, just remember: some of your choices might not be choices at all!

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Josh Elliott
Senior Editor
Josh Elliott is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media, leading the Food & Drink and Lifestyle teams with a focus on entertainment interviews. He is based in Toronto, Ontario.