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Ag minister calls grocers’ treatment of food producers ‘a big disappointment’

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If it was harmonized with the rest of the country, it could make things more efficient and easier

Marie-Claude Bibeau

“I can facilitate the work, but I’m not the lead on this,” she said. “Obviously if it was harmonized with the rest of the country, it could make things more efficient and easier.

“But at the end of the day it will be a decision that will have to be taken by the provinces.”

Bibeau spoke to the Financial Post in advance of her appearance at the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Summit on Thursday, where she was expected to announce the federal government’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge, a new $20-million program to incentivize new methods of limiting food waste.

On Tuesday, Metro told the Post it was open to discussions on a code of conduct, but only between industry players.

“We do not believe that government intervention is required,” Metro spokesperson Marie-Claude Bacon said in an email, adding that government intervention “may lead to unintended consequences.”

Metro’s comment echoed earlier remarks from Michael Medline, chief executive of Sobeys parent company Empire Co. Ltd., who last month advocated for change in the industry.

Medline said relations between grocers and suppliers in Canada are the worst he’s seen during his decades in the retail business, going as far as criticizing his competitors for their “repugnant” new fees. While he said he was open to the concept of a code of conduct, he cautioned against too much government involvement.

We do not believe that government intervention is required

Metro Inc.

“I don’t think a government unilaterally coming in and putting in legislation will probably help, because it’s a very complex industry and I don’t want unintended consequences,” he said during a virtual event hosted by the Empire Club of Canada on Oct. 28.

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