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Continuing to lead for fairness and accountability in retail (FAIR) practice
Created on 7/22/2021 9:06:35 PM

Written by Michael Graydon, CEO of Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
Published on May 31, 2021

FHCP has argued for decades that conditions in Canada for food manufacturing make the status quo unsustainable. High costs, unfavorable investment incentives, aging facilities, and a regulatory system that is overly burdensome are some of the major constraints on growing our ability to keep “Made in Canada” food thriving. 

Among the top constraints are unfair practices by the small handful of large grocers who control more than 80% of grocery sales in Canada. Earlier this month, Dalhousie University released results of an analysis supported by FHCP which found that grocers’ unfair behaviour is one of the top factors putting Canada’s domestic food supply chain and future as a food powerhouse at risk. The consequences are far-reaching and include decreased innovation, fewer jobs, lost investment, rising prices for consumers, and ultimately serious strain on Canada’s food security and self-reliance.

For far too long, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s largest grocers have bullied and shortchanged suppliers and farmers, for example by imposing surprise changes to orders and unfair fees on suppliers. 

After the a Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group agreed to examine the issue last year, FHCP and Canada’s second-largest grocery retailer Empire became the first to join forces and propose a legislated Grocery Supply Code of Practice for Canada — based on common principles, shared values, and evidence from international best practice and tailored to address the problems hindering Canada's grocery supply.

FHCP and Empire's proposal is broadly supported by leaders across manufacturing, health, and the food supply chain - including the Canadian Beverage Association (CBA), Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO), Dairy Processors of Canada (DPAC), Food Processors of Canada, and Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

Our organizations recently launched a new online hub to help inform consumers and urge decision makers about the critical importance of restoring fairness and accountability in relationships between large grocery retailers, farmers, and suppliers. Together, FHCP and our partners are committed to make sure governments and consumers alike understand the benefits of a legislated Grocery Supply Code of Practice that will deliver greater value, choice, and innovation for Canadians.

Just last week, multiple news reports confirmed that even Canada’s largest grocery retail association is finally acknowledging the serious problem. We are proud to see that decades of advocacy and the launch of FHCP and Empire's joint proposal have prompted all stakeholders to join in a national conversation in support of long-overdue action.

As the government continues to review input from a broad range of experts and stakeholders, FHCP - the only national association representing the entire Canadian food, health, and consumer product manufacturing sector - will continue to advance our proposal based on principles founded in trust and transparency.

Decades of experience in Canada and evidence from around the world indicate that a legislated Code tailored to address the behaviour of the largest retailers will best address this tremendous constraint on the future of our food supply. FHCP and Empire's jointly proposed Code remains the right blueprint for solutions that will strengthen Canada's grocery supply, supported by leaders across the essential food and manufacturing supply chain and by the vast majority of the companies who make the food and essential goods Canadians rely on every day.