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‘They should shoplift even more’: Some Canadians stealing high-priced food from grocery stores

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Some Canadians are shoplifting high-priced food items from grocery stores as the cost of living continues climbing, with a few even taking to social media to brag.

Last week, Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois wrote about the impact of grocery store theft.

“Grocery theft has always been a major problem, but with food inflation as it is, shopkeepers now fear the wrongdoers more than before,” the Halifax-based Agri-Food Analytics Lab director wrote in an article published on Jan. 10.

“According to some industry data, an average-sized food retail store in Canada can have between $2,000 and $5,000 worth of groceries stolen per week. With the relatively narrow profit margins in grocery, this amount is huge. To cover losses, grocers need to raise prices, so in the end, we all pay for grocery theft.”

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Twitter users weren’t happy with Charlebois’ words, with some proudly admitting they shoplift and others repeating the phrase, “If you see someone shoplifting, no you didn’t.”

Charlebois eventually responded to some of the online backlash, standing firm on his position on grocery theft.

“You think it is appropriate to shoplift while grocery shopping, just because you think food prices are too high? Crazy,” he wrote, while retweeting another Twitter user.

Since being tweeted on Jan. 10, Charlebois’ tweet has gained more than seven million views and hundreds of responses, the majority of which expressed disagreement with his stance.

Some people online have also called out Charlebois personally, revealing his income and saying he “shills” for Loblaw Companies Ltd. and Galen Weston’s family.

The outrage over soaring grocery prices has been a hot topic as inflation continues to impact Canadians.

Earlier in January, a picture of a pack of chicken breast at a Loblaw in Toronto went viral, as people expressed outrage over its high-priced label.

The photo, taken by CTV News reporter Siobhan Morris, showed that a five-piece pack of chicken was selling for nearly $27/kg.

In November, both Loblaw and Metro reported growth in sales and profit, but shared they were pushing back against suppliers’ continued price increases.

Research from Dalhousie University also showed that Canada’s top three grocery companies — Loblaw, Metro and Empire — made higher profits in 2022 compared with their average performances over the last five years.

Notably, Loblaw outperformed its five-year average performance but also did better than any of those years individually.

Food is becoming a concern for many Canadians, as a family of four is expected to spend around $1,066 more on groceries in 2023. (Photo by Chris Stoodley/Yahoo News Canada)Food is becoming a concern for many Canadians, as a family of four is expected to spend around $1,066 more on groceries in 2023. (Photo by Chris Stoodley/Yahoo News Canada)
Food is becoming a concern for many Canadians, as a family of four is expected to spend around $1,066 more on groceries in 2023. (Photo by Chris Stoodley/Yahoo News Canada)

According to a food report released in December, a Canadian family of four will spend around $1,066 more on groceries in 2023, with food prices set to increase by up to 7 per cent from last year.

“In 2023, it is expected that Canadians will continue to feel the effects of high food inflation, and food insecurity and affordability will also be a big issue with rising food prices,” the Canada Food Price report indicated.

“Canadians will still need to be prepared to spend more in the coming year.”

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name – Global News

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name  Global NewsView Full Coverage on Google News

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'Not telling us the truth': NSP customers complain utility isn't transparent about outages – CBC.ca

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‘Not telling us the truth’: NSP customers complain utility isn’t transparent about outages  CBC.caView Full Coverage on Google News

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Tiny wines find home in B.C.’s market, as Canadians consider reducing consumption

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VANCOUVER — Wine lovers have growing options on the shelf to enjoy their favourite beverage as producers in B.C. offer smaller container sizes.

Multiple British Columbia wineries over the last several years have begun offering their product in smaller, single-serve cans and bottles.

Along with making wine more attractive to those looking to toss some in a backpack or sip on the golf course, the petite containers leave wineries with options for a potential shift in mindset as Canadians discuss the health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.

Vancouver-based wine consultant Kurtis Kolt said he’s watched the segment of the wine industry offering smaller bottles and cans “explode” over the last several years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were meeting outdoors in parks and beaches and looking for something more portable to take with them.

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“You’re not taking a hit on quality, you know? In fact, if someone is only going to be having a glass or two, you’re cracking a can and it’s completely fresh, guaranteed,” he said.

It’s also an advantage for people who want to drink less, he said.

“It’s much less of a commitment to crack open a can or a small bottle or a smaller vessel than it is to open a bottle,” he said.

“Then you have to decide how quickly you’re going to go through it or end up dumping some out if you don’t finish it.”

Last month, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada saying no amount of alcohol is safe and those who consume up to two standard drinks per week face a low health risk.

That’s a significant change from the centre’s 2011 advice that said having 15 drinks per week for men and 10 drinks per week for women was low risk.

Health Canada has said it is reviewing the report.

Charlie Baessler, the managing partner at Corcelettes Estate Winery in the southern Interior, said his winery’s Santé en Cannette sparkling wine in a can was released in 2020 as a reduced alcohol, reduced sugar, low-calorie option.

“We’ve kind of gone above and beyond to attract a bit of a younger, millennial-type market segment with a fun design concept of the can and sparkling, low alcohol — all these things that have been recently a big item on the news,” he said.

Santé en Cannette is a nine per cent wine and reducing the alcohol was a way to reduce its calories, he said. The can also makes it attractive for events like a picnic or golf, is recyclable, and makes it easier for restaurants that might want to offer sparkling wine by the glass without opening an entire bottle.

At the same time, the lower alcohol content makes it an option for people who might want a glass of wine without feeling the same effect that comes from a higher alcohol content, he said.

“So the health is clearly one incentive, but I think more importantly, so was being able to enjoy a locally made product of B.C. from a boutique winery, dare I say, with a mimosa at 11 o’clock and not ruin your day,” he said.

Baessler said the winery has doubled production since the product was first released to about 30,000 cans a year, which they expect to match this year.

He said there’s naturally a market for the product but he doesn’t expect it to compete with the higher-alcohol wine.

“So this isn’t our Holy Grail. This is something that we do for fun and we’ll never compete, or never distract, from what is our core line of riper, higher-alcohol wine,” he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of B.C.’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents bars, pubs and private liquor stores, said the industry has seen a shift in consumers wanting options that are more convenient.

“It’s not a massive change in consumer behaviour but it is a definitely a noticeable one, which is why you see big companies responding to it,” he said.

Guignard said the latest CCSA report is creating an increased awareness and desire to become educated about responsible consumption choices, which is a good thing, but he adds it’s important for people to look at the relative risk of what they’re doing.

“If you’re eating fast food three meals a day, I don’t think having a beer or not is going to be the single most important determinant of your health,” he said.

“But from a consumer perspective, as consumer preferences change, of course beverage manufacturers respond with different packaging or different products, the same way you’ve seen in the last five years, a large number of low-alcohol or no-alcohol beverages being introduced to the market.”

While he won’t predict how much the market share could grow, Guignard said non-alcoholic beverages and low-alcoholic beverages will continue to be a significant piece of the market.

“I don’t know if it’s reached its peak or if it will grow. I just expect it to be part of the market for now on.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2023.

 

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

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