'The cost to stock our shelves has gone up, month after month:' Loblaws won't extend price freeze on No Name products
Published Tuesday, January 31, 2023 3:52PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 31, 2023 4:23PM EST
Canada's largest grocery retailer is ending its price freeze on its popular generic house brand products.
On Tuesday, Loblaw Companies Ltd. confirmed that the price freeze on No Name products will not be extended and will end after Tuesday as scheduled.
The company announced in October that it was implementing a three-month price freeze on its house brand, which includes 1,500 grocery items, until Jan. 31, amid high grocery prices.
"During the price freeze, Canadians who chose No Name over the big-name brands saved hundreds of millions of dollars. In the meantime, food inflation has continued and the cost to stock our shelves has gone up, month after month," the company said in a statement to CP24.
"Looking ahead, we'll continue to hold those prices flat wherever possible, and switching to No Name will still save the average family thousands this year."
Speaking to CP24 on Tuesday morning, Sylvain Charlebois, the director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said the price freeze on No Name products likely helped many consumers looking for cheaper alternatives.
"The food inflation rate has remained well over 10 per cent. And so everything else got more expensive, but No Name branded products remained at the same price," Charlebois said.
Statistics Canada reported earlier this month that grocery prices were up 11 per cent in December compared with a year ago. Meanwhile, grocery prices in the country were up 9.8 per cent overall last year – the fastest pace since 1981.
Charlebois said shoppers are becoming strategic when it comes to buying food.
"Most people don't have time to visit more than one store a week. But what we're seeing right now is that more people are actually alternating. They're visiting one grocery store, and the following week, they're visiting another one, and a third week, they'll visit another one. So consumers are becoming more aware of what's actually happening out there," he said.
Charlebois noted that consumers could see more deals in the spring but should expect price increases next month, especially with dairy products.
He said dairy farmers are getting an increase of 2.2 per cent for milk and butterfat, which means dairy products will become more expensive.
"In February, typically you see a bit of a bump, but that's really up to banners to decide they control prices, obviously. So with Loblaw, we're expecting higher prices for No Name branded products," Charlebois said.
"Historically, February and March have been average months when it comes to food inflation, so it's a wait-and-see game typically."
- with files from The Canadian Press