Loblaws decision on 50 per cent discounts causes consternation

Grocers' reduction of discounts on nearly expired food items has upset some Nova Scotians

3 min read
Consumers have expressed confusion at Loblaws Atlantic Superstores removing discounts, Friday Jan. 19, 2024
caption Consumers are upset about Loblaws Atlantic Superstores reducing discounts on expiring food items.
Meig Campbell

Grocery chain Loblaws’ recent decision to reduce 50 per cent discounts on nearly expired food items has irritated some Nova Scotia customers.

Loblaws has confirmed they are in the process of removing their 50 per cent discounts on perishable foods that are nearing expiry and marking them to a maximum of 30 per cent instead.

The change was met by outrage by Dalhousie University student Annelies Mentink.

“I think it’s pretty terrible,” Mentink says of Loblaws’ decision. “I don’t really understand their reasoning behind it except for them to make more money.”

Loblaws’ discount adjustment comes at a time of steadily rising food prices that have caused worries among Canadian households.

Canada’s Food Price Report 2024 from Dalhousie’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab said food affordability is still a pressing concern in the new year and food prices in 2024 are forecasted to increase by 2.5 to 4.5 per cent. Increases will be most significant for meat and baked goods – foods that tend to receive the 50 per cent discount at Loblaws stores before their looming expiration dates.

Salads are displayed at a grocery store
caption Products such as these salads will no longer be discounted by 50 per cent at Loblaws stores.
Meig Campbell

Sylvain Charlebois is the head of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab and says that this change will have a substantial impact across Canada but will hit hard for Nova Scotians.

“We have fewer options when it comes to grocers in Canada. The Atlantic Superstore is a big player, along with No Frills,” Charlebois said. “The bottom line is that you’re basically forcing people to pay more for certain products.”

Developments to establish Canada’s first-ever grocery code of conduct started in early 2023 and were prompted by the Grocer Industry Code of Conduct steering committee as a way to offer better access to food for Canadians.

The code is a federal-provincial government effort to make food prices fairer and more transparent. Grocery chains are being asked to join voluntarily.

These efforts were commended by the federal government but the launch of the code has stalled due to Walmart and Loblaws’ unwillingness to sign on. Loblaws spokeswoman Catherine Thomas cited concerns that the latest draft of the grocery code of conduct does not align with their customers’ best interests.

Some young consumers of Loblaws grocers see their refusal to sign on to the grocery code of conduct and the lowering of their discounts are signs of the corporation’s inclination to exploit the public.

“I think this reflects a disturbing form of theft by giant corporations to the average working people. It’s hitting people the worst for the things that are most essential,” Dalhousie student Malcolm Hamilton says.

Loblaws said in an email to the Dalhousie Agri-Food Analytics Lab that their decision to decrease the percentage of their discounts is to align with competitors. They also explained more discounts can be accessed through their Flashfood app.

Loblaws did not respond to an interview request.

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