Some Canadians are stealing expensive food items from supermarkets as the cost of living continues to rise, and a few are even taking to social media to brag.
Last week Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at Dalhousie University, wrote about the impact of supermarket theft.
“Grocery theft has always been a major problem, but with the current food inflation, retailers now fear the culprits more than before,” the director of Halifax-based Agri-Food Analytics Lab wrote in an article published Jan. 10.
“According to some industry data, an average grocery store in Canada can steal between $2,000 and $5,000 worth of groceries per week. With the relatively small profit margins in the grocery business, this figure is huge. To cover losses, grocers have to raise prices , so in the end we all pay for grocery theft.”
Twitter users weren’t happy with Charlebois’ words, with some proudly admitting they shoplifted and others repeating the phrase, “If you see someone shoplifting, no you didn’t.”
Charlebois eventually responded to some of the online backlash and remained steadfast in its stance on grocery theft.
“Do you think it’s appropriate to shoplift while shopping just because you think food prices are too high? Crazy,” he wrotewhile retweeting another Twitter user.
Since Charlebois’ tweet was tweeted on Jan. 10, it has received more than seven million views and hundreds of comments, the majority of which disagreed with his position.
Some people online have also personally called Charlebois, revealing his income and saying he is “shills” to Loblaw Companies Ltd. and Galen Weston’s family.
Outrage over rising food prices has been a hot topic as inflation continues to hit Canadians.
Earlier in January, a photo of a package of chicken breasts at a Loblaw in Toronto went viral as people expressed outrage at the expensive label.
The photo, taken by CTV News reporter Siobhan Morris, showed that a five-pack of chicken sold for nearly $27/kg.
In November, both Loblaw and Metro reported growth in sales and profits, but shared that they were pulling back against continued price hikes from suppliers.
Research from Dalhousie University also showed that Canada’s three largest food companies – Loblaw, Metro and Empire – made higher profits in 2022 compared to their average performance over the past five years.
Notably, Loblaw outperformed the five-year average, but also outperformed each of those years individually.
According to a food report published in December, a Canadian family of four will spend about $1,066 more on groceries in 2023, with food prices rising by up to 7 percent from last year.
“In 2023, Canadians are expected to continue to feel the effects of high food inflation, and food insecurity and affordability will also be a major concern with rising food prices,” the Canada Food Price report said.
“Canadians will still need to be prepared to spend more in the coming year.”