A New Report Reveals How Grocery Prices In Canada Can Get Cheaper & Where People Shop The Most

Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys are bringing in so much cash. 💰

​People in the aisles of a grocery store in Toronto.
Senior Creator

People in the aisles of a grocery store in Toronto.

There is a new report that explained how grocery prices in Canada could get cheaper and revealed which stores — like Loblaws and Sobeys — are bringing in the most cash.

It also broke down where Canadians shop for groceries and how often they visit multiple stores to find the best deal, as grocery prices have increased at their fastest rate in over 40 years.

On June 27, 2023, Competition Bureau Canada published its report "Canada Needs More Grocery Competition," which examined the state of Canada's grocery industry, identified barriers to increasing competition and made recommendations to improve the industry.

While the solutions outlined in the report won't bring grocery bills down immediately, there are steps that can be taken toward creating a better grocery industry in Canada, according to the Bureau.

That includes creating a strategy to support new grocery businesses, encouraging the growth of independent and international grocers, introducing harmonized unit pricing requirements for consumer choice and making it easier to acquire property to open new grocery stores.

The report shared that having coordinated unit prices in provinces and territories will allow Canadian shoppers to easily compare the prices of items at different grocery stores.

According to the Competition Bureau, Canada's grocery industry is concentrated and difficult for businesses to compete effectively against "Canada's grocery giants."

Those grocery giants include Loblaws (which operates NoFrills, Fortinos, T&T, Real Canadian Superstore and more), Sobeys (which operates IGA, FreshCo, Foodland, Farm Boy, Longos and more) and Metro (which operates Food Basics, Super C and more).

If changes aren't made to ensure the industry is more competitive, the Bureau said that Canadians won't benefit from "competitive prices and product choices."

So, to help analyze the state of Canada's grocery industry, the Competition Bureau also surveyed people about their grocery shopping habits.

When asked how often they buy groceries, 3% of people said everyday, 37% said two to three times per week, 44% said once a week, and 11% said once every two weeks.

A small percentage of others said once a month, less than once a month, or that they don't buy groceries at all.

The most popular grocery stores in Canada are Loblaws, Walmart, Costco, Metro, and Sobeys, according to the survey.

Most people, 49%, said they typically buy groceries at Loblaws and the range of stores it operates, while 28% said Sobeys and its affiliated stores, and 22% said Metro and the stores it operates.

Outside the Canadian grocery giants, 25% of people said they buy food at Walmart, 18% said they mostly shop at Costco, and 28% cited other grocery stores as their top choices.

Since food prices in Canada have gone up quite a bit over the years, the Competition Bureau also asked shoppers how often they visit multiple grocery stores to find the cheapest price.

Most people — 41% of those surveyed — said sometimes while 17% said very often, 21% said often, and 21% said never.

As Canadians are paying more at the checkout lane due to higher grocery prices, the profits of Canadian grocers have gone up as well.

In fact, the profits of Canada's three largest grocers (Loblaws, Metro, and Sobeys) increased from $2.4 billion in 2019 to $3.6 billion in 2022!

Loblaws had earnings of $1,994,000,000 in 2022, with Metro and Sobeys a little further behind at $849,500,000 and $745,800,000, respectively.

Earlier in 2023, grocery store executives — including ones from Loblaws and Costco — were questioned during a House of Commons committee meeting about food price inflation in Canada.

Galen Weston Jr., who represented Loblaws at the meeting, said that he had been confronted by a shopper complaining about food prices.

He claimed that once he explained the factors leading to higher prices, the person understood and supposedly said price inflation was being mischaracterized in the news.

Meanwhile, the Costco executive said low prices offered by the wholesale retailer benefit all Canadians because other grocers try to make their prices more in line with Costco's.

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

Lisa Belmonte
Senior Creator
Lisa Belmonte is a Senior Creator for Narcity Media focused on jobs and careers and is based in Ontario.