Sobeys Closing… and The Truth about Canadian Grocery Retailing and What Little Choice You Have

 

The Canadian food retailing scene is particularly concentrated. Very few players largely dictate what we eat. Of these few players, Sobeys and Metro Inc. are leaps and bounds behind the Loblaws Company.

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The Scene: 

While Sobeys CEO Marc Poulin states that the closure of 50 stores will be beneficial long term, the food retailing sector is more complex that this. While a small shareof the food retailing environment, Sobeys store closing will further concentrate corporate ownership within food retailing. Few players = fewer choices. Oligopolies ahoy! Similarities cane be drawn to another prominent feature of the Canadian landscape — telecomm.  What is with Canadians allowing our government to be bed mates with big business? We should all be outraged that there is governmental “reluctance” to regulate these markets, to allow increased competition. Choice of telecomm provider is one thing – choice of what is essentially ‘allowed’ in our bellies is quite another…

So while Sobeys is closing 50 stores, and those employed there will need to find new places to work (another issue for another day…) we should take time to reflect on the larger, more complicated picture of what this means for Canadian consumers. What we eat, and the messy web that gets us to eating should be based on what is best for our health, not the health of retailer portfolios. I am saddened that Sobeys is closing. While pairing with Jamie Oliver was no doubt a marketing move, Jamie’s focus on real ingredients, real food, and the health of children has been inspirational, particularity in the UK. For more on how we are being persuaded to purchase health, please click here.

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What can you do ? Share this post with others, think critically about what you purchase and why it is available for purchase in the first place. Share a meal, talk with each other, talk with a farmer — they don’t bite and would love to be acknowledged for their work. I have yet to meet a farmer who doesn’t like chatting…  While retailing environments are becoming increasingly concentrated, we are also to blame. Our knowledge about what we eat, where it comes from and why we are eating it in the first place is at an abysmal low. We need to demand more of our government, but we need to demand more of ourselves. We need to make good choices. But only when our food system reflects true choice, can we do this. People are powerful.

So, now what’s on your dinner plate for tonight?